By Siân Thomas, Group Marketing Officer
For the second year in a row I’m co-ordinating a culinary feat resembling challenges seen on TV’s Masterchef!
Six Changing Lives volunteers and I are learning how to prepare and cook a banquet for 40 paying guests being drilled and trained by Blackfrairs Restaurant’s legendary MD, Andy Hook.
The whole idea behind the initiative is to use FareShare North East food – an enterprise run by Changing Lives to redistribute good quality surplus food to those in need. Fareshare redirects surplus, safe and in-date food from supermarkets and food producers which would otherwise be wasted. They currently serve around 70 community groups in the region and new customers are getting on board every week. Andy is passionate about minimising food waste and is keen to demonstrate how we can all maximise usage of good quality food.
I never knew I could peel so many potatoes, crumble so much crumble and attempt to slice so much cabbage the ‘Andy Way!’. With only days to go till we stage a spectacular banquet at Blackfriars Restaurant in Newcastle nerves are starting to set in. We’ve already diarised another prep day to ensure the actual banquet goes without a hitch.
MD of Blackfriars Restaurant, Andy Hook has taken us through two training days where we learnt how to figure out quantities for 40 guests, make bread and prepare a stunning chicken casserole – all with food destined for landfill from FareShare NE.
Andy also supplies fresh veg from his allotment so we know we will have particular ingredients on the day. We sort of know what we’re cooking on day!
We also undergo front of house training but I’m still struggling to carry three hot plates at once – I’m not a natural in that regard. Talking to our volunteers they really do appreciate the opportunity to spend time with Andy and learn new skills in a professional environment. That’s not to say though that we’re all pretty nervous for the big day!
Thinking back to last year I remember it takes resolve, comfortable shoes, nerves of steel and boundless enthusiasm to pull this off even if it is for a second year running. Volunteers crisp white shirts have just been delivered. So there’s no backing out now!