Food: Chinese Knives, Shiitake Wontons, 1400+ Meals & Tackling Food-Waste with Wok For 1000

So, this could quite possibly be the quickest I’ve *ever* typed up a post, edited photos and got it live on the blog. I guess that pretty much sums up how awesome my Tuesday was!

Having kindly been invited to volunteer as part of Wok for 1000, I was expecting to spend my day perhaps washing up, maybe doing a spot of pan-stirring, possibly some onion slicing. The reality, however, was completely different. Sure I sliced a lot of onions, and I *think* I stirred a pan at one point. I didn’t do any washing up, I ate some delicious food, I taught some knife skills (and practised my first-aid when said teaching didn’t quite go to plan). Under the watchful eye of the school of wok‘s Jeremy Pang, who is as utterly as adorable in real life as I had imagined, 200 volunteers donned (paper) chef hats (plastic) aprons and crowded into Borough Market this morning for a cause that is particularly close to my heart.

Food Waste is something I’m passionate about. Read: I loathe it. It makes me sick with anger to think about the ridiculous amounts of food that households in this country throw away, let alone restaurants, shops, office canteens. There’s very often nothing wrong with said food, and there’s so many people who would be unbelievably grateful for it. When it’s for a homeless shelter, or donated to the elderly struggling to survive on a basic pension, or to replace a (let’s face it) substandard hospital meal, all of this food could come in so useful. This is where Plan Zheroes come in. Their aim is to eradicate food waste in London  by connecting businesses with excess food to charities in need of food. Kinda like Tinder for leftovers (the kind of Tinder I could appreciate!).

Wok for 1000 not only aims at promoting both Plan Zheroes and their supported charities, but also at beating hunger across the city. The aim was to prep, cook and deliver 1000 meals to those in need – and not only did we achieve this, but we smashed through the target. At final count before I left, the meals were counted at roughly 1400. For just a few hours work, a few leftover ingredients, that’s amazing. Just think about what we could achieve if more people took these ‘waste’ ingredients and transformed them into a meal for their community.

Throughout the day we were treated to demos by Jeremy himself, including a tutorial on how to hold and use the (frankly terrifying) knives used in Chinese cooking. The result is that they are surprisingly easy to use, the knives I currently own are far too blunt, and I want one in my life. I demonstrated my chopping skills, only to have someone copy me and promptly slice their finger. Whoops. We made a ridiculous number of wontons (well in excess of the 4000 we were aiming for). With a combo of veggie and pork ones, it was the deep-fried shiitake mushroom ones that completely took my heart. So, so good.

Oh, and I finally got to meet Erica (who is every bit as lovely as her amazing hair colour makes her seem), and she shared her well-honed Wonton-shaping knowledge with me. If that isn’t worth getting rather cold for, I don’t know what is…

I learnt new skills, got to share some of my own skills (if not successfully), I got to see the pure gratitude in people’s eyes when they received our food, and I got to eat some rather delicious noms myself. Thank you Jeremy, School of Wok and Plan Zheroes for such an empowering day!

How do you think we could continue to tackle food waste?