Open Tables: A table for plenty

Open Table’s free lunches aren’t just a delicious way for the community to connect, they also help raise awareness around food waste.

Open Table serves food that would otherwise have been thrown out.They get their produce from food rescue organisations OzHarvest and Secondbite, or from local businesses.

“You don’t know what you get until you turn up in the morning,” said Open Table Coordinator Hiroko Ooka.

“I line up all the veggies and think about what we can make on that day. I really like that ‘think outside of the box’ or ‘limited source’ cooking,” she said, describing their ‘Ready Steady Cook’ approach.

“For the community it’s a great space where we all can sit together.”

“As long as you share a meal then you become friends,” said Hiroko,”it is important for us to connect. The lunches are run by volunteers, who come from a range of different backgrounds and levels of skill and experience.”

“For the volunteers, I think it’s a great way of learning cooking,” Hiroko said. “You don’t need to even like cooking to help us. You can just come here and you can start from very simple things.”

Open Table runs two free lunches each month at Bargoonga Nganjin North Fitzroy Library in partnership with Yarra Libraries, which also offers pre-loved books for participants to take home.

No Waste Cook Club

Open Table also runs a No Waste Cook Club at Bargoonga Nganjin. These workshops are for people who may not quite know how to prepare the food available to them.

“We might as well take food that would have just gone to landfill and help teach people how to cook delicious vegetarian meals, and address food scarcity at the same time,” said Open Table’s Annie Morgan.

“I really love teaching people who have never prepared food before… You show them that you can take discarded carrot tops and turn it into a super delicious pesto, and their mind is just blown! They have all these new skills that they can take with them.”

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