Last night (20 April), The Brewery, in partnership with charity FareShare, the food redistribution charity, delivered the National Council for Voluntary Organisations’ (NCVO) annual dinner at the Chiswell Street venue. The event challenged preconceptions of so called ‘food waste’ and for the first time in the dinner’s history created a course from surplus produce.

The NCVO champions the voluntary sector by connecting, representing and supporting charitable organisations. The event, which catered for 600 members from across the charity and volunteering industry, followed the conference in which the future of the voluntary sector and how not-for-profits can lead their organisations with purpose was discussed.

To help raise the profile of the charitable work both organisations undertake, The Brewery kitchen was challenged to produce a sustainable and ethical menu, designed from ingredients considered to be surplus. Executive Chef Steve Connell created a garlic and thyme roasted chicken breast dish with beetroot and potato gratin, burnt butter celeriac puree, fresh peas, black cabbage and a madeira sauce.

FareShare is the leading UK-wide charity tackling food waste and food poverty by redistributing produce from the food & drink industry, that would otherwise go to waste, to frontline charities and community groups.

Working with food donated from FareShare, the chefs re-created a fine-dining dish using surplus food delivered days before the event from the charity. Having enjoyed a variety of workshops and talks from UK Chief Scout Bear Grylls and Chair of the Independent Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society Julia Unwin CBE, the dinner was a roaring success and was enjoyed by all including NCVO Chief Executive Sir Stuart Etherington.

Tom Gore, Food Director at The Brewery commented, “We place a huge emphasis on planning for potential waste, whether it is repurposing ingredients, or working in partnership with charities like FareShare to re-distribute surplus produce. It’s time for us to move away from the term ‘waste’ when we in fact mean surplus.”

Alyson Walsh, Director of Marketing and Campaigns at FareShare added, “Surplus food exists for reasons of mass-production inefficiencies; or seasonal weather changes; packaging errors; slow rates of sale. Over 270,000 tonnes of it, enough to create 650 million meals which is around 10 meals for everyone in the UK. But the bigger story is that FareShare is only able to redistribute 4% of the surplus food which is available. This is life-changing, good to eat, delicious food and by getting it to food redistribution charities like FareShare, it also saves the charity sector approximately £22 million per year; savings which are ploughed back into the charities’ vital services.”