A night to remember: CTO Group’s support for OzHarvest

October 14, 2016

I have been wanting to volunteer some time to charity for quite a while now, so when I saw an email calling for staff to attend a company-supported charity event, I immediately jumped at the opportunity.

The nominated event was OzHarvest’s Cook for a Cause and the first things that came to mind were:

  1. Yay! Here is a chance to give a little back to the community that has given me so much
  2. Oh no, I don’t know how cook and I’m going to poison somebody
  3. I am going to burn down the kitchen

But upon further reading I was re-assured that there would be a professional chef on hand to watch over us! Phew.

To provide a little background, OzHarvest is a non-profit organisation with humble beginnings rescuing unsold sandwiches from cafes to distribute to charities. It has now grown to a major operation which rescues surplus foods from a wide variety of supermarkets, restaurants, shopping centres and so on, and delivers it to more than 800 charities throughout Australia. Within Canberra, there are over 60 charities which benefit from OzHarvest’s fantastic service.

One of the ways that OzHarvest raises awareness of the work they do in the community is through the Cook for a Cause corporate event. It enables OzHarvest to educate participants on the issues of food waste, food security and homelessness while a professional chef teaches the participants how to transform rescued foods into restaurant-quality meals that are later delivered to the charities that OzHarvest services.

As the team arrived at 3seeds cooking school for the event, Dave Burnet (OzHarvest ACT Territory Manager) was there to welcome us, provide us our OzHarvest aprons and give us a briefing on the work that OzHarvest undertakes in Canberra.

Did you know that in Canberra alone, OzHarvest has rescued 408,456KG of surplus foods, which has in turn been transformed into 1,225,367 meals? They are some astounding numbers, especially when you think of the number of food outlets not donating surplus food!

After the initial briefing, we were then handed over to head chef Andrew Haskins, who presented us with the rescued foods from the day. These included lobster tails, chicken, beef, pork and a large variety of vegetables and fruits. After a quick brainstorm, the menu for the night was decided to be:

  • Roasted Vegetable Soup
  • Lobster Tail & Smoked Salmon Lasagne
  • Beef Chicken and Potato Pie
  • Pear Crumble

Tasks were quickly delegated to the team and as we began chopping, peeling and cooking, David Burnet remained with us to continue the conversations about OzHarvest.

Listening to David speak was really inspiring! You can really feel his passion and enthusiasm about the work the organisation is doing. Supported by a great group of volunteers, OzHarvest is really kicking some goals in Canberra and throughout Australia.

By the end of the night, we had created some great meals thanks to the helpful staff at 3seeds. The team had a chance to get to know each other outside of our work surroundings, and we learned a lot about OzHarvest and had collectively given back to the Canberra community in a meaningful way.

It’s amazing to know that CTO Group encourages its staff to participate in these types of events. I highly recommend anyone who has not had a chance to volunteer their time to give it a go. It’s refreshing on the soul and really pleasing to know that you have helped someone in the community who may be less fortunate than yourself.

This article is by Talal Rad, a Consultant with CTO Group. You can follow Talal on Twitter or LinkedIn.