Restaurant Awards

Gourmet Traveller Hospitality Honours List 2020: giving back

We salute those who reached out to the wider community, spearheaded charitable efforts and offered practical support for the industry at large.

By Michael Harden & Jordan Kretchmer
Colombo Social's free meals for those in need.

Hope Delivery

Neil Perry officially retired from Rockpool Dining Group in July but remains in service thanks to his Hope Delivery initiative. The social enterprise launched in March, creating restaurant-standard meals for those in need – from the homeless and unemployed to migrant workers ineligible for JobKeeper and JobSeeker. Partnering with OzHarvest to distribute meals, as well as handing them out to people in the street in Sydney and Melbourne, Hope Delivery has shared more than 200,000 meals since it launched – and is still going strong.
As Perry told GT in September: "A restaurant belongs to the community, and part of being in a community is taking care of people who are less privileged." Perry has certainly stepped up to the mark, both manning the pans to cook for Hope Delivery and working the phones to raise funds to keep the initiative going.
Hope Delivery's Neil Perry. Photo: TJ Edwards

Adam Liston + Shobosho

It was an impassioned social media call out from Shobosho head chef Adam Liston that helped prompt the Shobosho team into two community-focused cooking projects. The team took over lunch service duties at Adelaide's WestCare Centre, where many of the cooks were aged 60-plus and unable to keep volunteering during lockdown.
Liston's team also temporarily transformed Shobosho into Dr Sho, using their culinary skills to prep nourishing meals exclusively for healthcare professionals. While the restaurant has returned to regular trading, Liston reflects on the difficult time and how his team rallied together, positively. "It was rewarding," he says. "We didn't do it for fame, we just wanted to keep busy."

Jessi Singh

Chef and restaurateur Jessi Singh handed over the reins of his newly opened Mr Brownie Rooftop Hotel in Melbourne to chefs, winemakers and other hospitality folk that needed a space to sell their wares (all rent- and commission-free). Singh also delivered meals to the St Vincent's Hospital emergency department and sent meals to nurses and healthcare workers who were stuck in quarantine.

Ho Jiak Gives Back

The Town Hall outpost of this excellent Malaysian eatery in Sydney offered free and low-cost takeaway meals to hospitality workers ineligible for JobKeeper. This isn't the first iteration of the restaurant's Ho Jiak Gives Back initiative; earlier in the year the team raised more than $20,000 for the Rural Fire Service.
Ho Jiak's charity meals.

COVID-19 Employee Assistance Directive

Bar owners Jason Chan (Seamstress) and Henry Le (Ends & Means) and chef Jez Berwick started the Covid-19 Employee Assistance Directive as a way to keep their stood-down staff fed, but it quickly grew, morphing into a volunteer-staffed, donation-funded quasi-outreach program for the Victorian hospitality industry that has been pumping out up to 3000 meals a week. Iain Ling (The Lincoln) and Jason Lui (Flower Drum) are also on board, adding further ballast to the award-winning initiative.

Banksia Soup Kitchen

Inspired by his work with food charity OzHarvest, chef and restaurateur Colin Fassnidge and his team from Banksia Bistro in Sydney's south supported families in their local community by supplying thousands of free meals to those doing it tough during lockdown. The project has continued well beyond lockdown into the latter half of this year.

Milieu Hospitality’s Open Kitchen

This initiative from the people behind Melbourne's Congress, Future Future and Lagotto restaurants was set up to help feed hospo workers who lost their jobs or were facing drastically reduced hours, and were ineligible for government assistance. By corralling a group of like-minded sponsors, Open Kitchen has been able to supply free vegetarian meals twice a week since May using an innovative ticketing system with allocated collection times to ensure social distancing.

OzHarvest’s Harvest Bites

Originally launched during lockdown and continuing today, this swish meal-delivery service from the always altruistic OzHarvest sees chefs from some of Sydney's best restaurants (including Nomad, Quay, Firedoor and Spice Temple) take turns cooking restaurant-quality meals for home diners. Each order allows OzHarvest to deliver at least 40 meals to people in need. "Harvest Bites grew from the idea of not only raising money to help support the growing number of people suffering from food insecurity, but also to get our chef ambassadors back in the kitchen," explains OzHarvest founder Ronni Kahn.
Harvest Bites' chef ambassador Peter Gilmore and his team at Quay. Photo: Chris Chen

Colombo Social

Even before the pandemic, Colombo Social in Sydney's Enmore had good intentions at heart – set up as a restaurant and social enterprise that supports asylum seekers and refugees transition into their new lives. When the pandemic hit, the restaurant did what it does best: help some of the most vulnerable members of the community.
"When Covid struck and we were forced to shut the restaurant, Kyle Wiebe from Mission Australia reached out with a request for food relief for tenants who were left most at risk," says co-founder Peter Jones-Best.
The team went on to cook 2000 meals a week, also distributing them through additional charities including Glebe Youth Services and Redlink Housing in Redfern. Now, Colombo Social has sent out more than 30,000 meals and launched its own kitchen training school called Ability Social, which offers a comprehensive 20-week training program and paid employment, while cooking meals for the community.
Colombo Social co-owners Peter Jones-Best (left) and Shaun Christie-David.

Chat Thai community

The Sydney restaurant group connected with its community by providing free meals to frontline staff, including police, ambulance and fire services, as well as any staff who were stood down, and many others in need. All while preparing to open a new restaurant in Neutral Bay.

The Entree.Pinays

This Melbourne-based collective of Filipinas is the perfect example of a modern food movement. The collective's mission is to educate Australians about the diversity of Filipino cuisine through food events (pre-COVID-19) and Instagram cookalongs (during COVID-19), but it also has a strong sense of social justice. "Food has been our gateway to illicit pride amongst our community, but beyond that food lets us explore issues within our community that run under the surface," says co-founder Grace Guinto.
This year, the collective joined forces with Migrante Melbourne to support Filipino international students affected by COVID-19 restrictions, by selling calamansi trees (native Filipino citrus) and drumming up financial support from local chefs, restaurant owners and its connected followers. "Food is the reason why Entree.Pinays exists. So when food becomes so insecure for someone, how can we truly celebrate food without recognising the hardship for others."

Attica Soup Project

When Attica owner Ben Shewry and food writer Dani Valent learnt that temporary visa holders were excluded from government assistance they sought to make soup with serious soul. When ordering Attica's in-home menu, Melburnians can choose to add on a Thai-inspired chicken broth – $5 from every order goes towards feeding unemployed hospitality workers on temporary visas.

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  • undefined: Michael Harden & Jordan Kretchmer