Food for Thought with Adam Liaw at Foodbank Victoria

Posted on April 3, 2012


I have taken a slight hiatus from the blog last month and here are my excuses; 1. March is wedding season prime time, and 2. the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (MFWF) also happens to run in March. So while I’ve had plenty of blog fodder, time has been really scarce. Thankfully, things appear to be slowing down a little now.

There were a whole range of events on for the MFWF, from express lunch deals through to intimate dinners with renowned chefs. One such event was ‘Food for Thought with Adam Liaw’ at Foodbank Victoria. For non Masterchef viewers, Adam Liaw’s claim to fame is winning the 2010 series (the second season). The event prompted me to “uncover the issues of food insecurity across Victoria and witness the magic of Adam Liaw as he creates mouthwatering dishes from Foodbank Victoria’s warehouse stock”.

Indeed it was a very worthy event to attend. The first 45 minutes or so was an introduction to Foodbank Victoria and its role. We were even provided with a grand tour of the warehouse facility and given an understanding of how Foodbank receives, stores and distributes millions of kilos of food to Victorians in need of aid (either through crisis or natural disaster). Last year, they gave out 3.8 million kilos of food and this year they’re aiming in excess of 5 million kilos.

Foodbank Victoria is part of a national network of Foodbanks. They operates predominately on State Government funding with time donations from a sizable volunteer network and food donations through wholesalers or distributors. The food and basic amenity items it receives are in perfectly good condition, just not perfect enough for retail. It was quite amazing learning about how much waste there would be in the food industry if not for an organisation like Foodbank. Literally whole pallets of food suitable for human consumption would otherwise be destined for the bin because of defects as minor as text misprints or fruit and veg being a slightly odd shaped. The mind boggles. Thank goodness for Foodbank and their zero waste policy.

In terms of who Foodbank helps; pretty much anyone, albeit in an indirect way. Foodbank provides food to a wide range of organisations including charities, local government and schools, but it will ultimately go to someone in need. They are a huge part of the State’s emergency relief services for the recent floods and other natural disasters. If you want to find out more about Foodbank Victoria and Foodbank Australia, please visit their respective websites for more information and how you can help out.

Adam’s role for the night really was to teach and to entertain. While he wasn’t dishing up fine dining affair (which in his own words would have been strange given the preceding talk on how to feed the needy), he did provide many useful hints and tidbits for general everyday cooking. Most of the produce (bar 4 ingredients) he made use of on the night had at some stage came through the doors of Foodbank Victoria and indeed all the fresh veggies and herbs were taken straight from Foodbank’s chillers.

His handy hints included a super easy, 3 ingredient coconut ice cream: 400mL can of coconut milk (milk not cream, the one he used only had 12% coconut content), 300mL tub of thickened cream and 1/3 cup of sugar. Place into saucepan and simmer until everything comes together then transfer to an ice cream churner. By the end of his 90 minutes demonstration, the ice cream was ready. Lucky me, I got to sample it and by golly it was surprisingly good. Quite creamy and coconutty. It’s not going to win any awards, but for 3 ingredients and minimal fuss, this is a superb recipe.

Adam was, and still is, an eloquent and engaging speaker so the night just flew by. News has it that he will be hosting a food program on the ABC (or was it SBS) very soon. Keep a watch out for it over the next couple of months!

Overall, it was a very good and educational night out. I learnt a lot and by talking a bit about Foodbank’s good work here, I hope you will be motivated to learn a bit more about them too.

Posted in: MissC thoughts