Welcome! This is a series of 5 blogs bringing to you the take-outs of workshops hosted by Melbourne Farmers Markers in collaboration with Fair Food ChallengeYouth Food Movement and Leftover Lovers with the support from Sustainability Victoria and The University of Melbourne through a Love Food Hate Waste Victoria grant.

My name is Kameron Chan and I am a student at the University of Melbourne, currently volunteering with the Melbourne Farmers Markets as a Freelance Food Consultant. Over the workshops, I will blogging each workshop as well as provide tips, tricks and take-outs for you to up your food waste game in the home!

In the final of five Love Food Hate Waste Student Workshop, the participants were treated to a cooking show by none other than MasterChef Australia Runner-up Lynton Tapp from Leftover Lovers! Known as the ‘Stockman’, Lynton grew up on his family’s cattle farm in the Northern Territory where he had firsthand experience of the difficulties farmers faced. Humble to his roots in the present day, Lynton acts as an ambassador for farmers through policy advocacy, education and his television shows. You can find more about Lynton here.

This cooking presentation brought the crux of the workshops together into one fast paced bang. Learning about waste and food storage by  Fair Food Challenge, imparting new and bold flavours and kitchen confidence by Youth Food Movement and being aware of and using our leftover food scraps, aromatic spices by Leftover Lovers!. Of course there were a lot more lessons shown and learnt but simply, Love Food and Hate Waste is just the tip of the iceberg!

This blog is a bit different. Last time, I promised you a flavour bomb of a spaghetti bolognaise recipe using our tips, tricks and spices gained in last week’s workshop which turned out to be a red herring #sorrynotsorry! But in the whole grand scheme of things, why would you want a recipe from me when you could get one from as MasterChef like Lynton himself???

This recipe encapsulates all the lessons we learnt so pay close attention to each step!

Lynton’s Love Food Hate Waste Vegetable Curry with Rice

  • Prepare your vegetables. You can use whatever is in season. In this workshop, Lynton used about 1 handful of tomatoes (cut in half – no need to discard tops), 1 handful of strawberries (cut in half – no need to discard tops), a small bunch of carrots (cut in half lengthways with tops reserved), a small bunch of Hamburg parsley (cut in half lengthways with tops reserved), a small bunch of garlic chives (rough chop) and a small bunch of fennel (bulbs sliced with tops reserved). There is a distinction between ingredients that take a long time to cook (like the parsley, carrots and potatoes etc.) and others that don’t (like tomatoes, strawberries, onions and fennel). Note: these ingredients were washed but not peeled and stems/tops reserved!
  • Prepare your spice mix. In separate jars, mix a good extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) with dried cumin seeds in one and chilli flakes in the other. Just put enough oil in each jar to cover. These spices can then last for up to 2-3 months.
  • Preheat a pot on a medium heat. Add a good drizzle of EVOO into the pot and add the fennel/aromatic ‘quick’ ingredients. Sauté until caramelised. Add half of the tomatoes, strawberries and garlic chives and sauté with a table spoon of each spice mix. Continue to sauté until the tomatoes and strawberries start to break down.
  • In another pot on high heat, add a good drizzle of EVOO and add the carrots, parsley and other ‘long’ ingredients and sauté until caramelised/half-cooked. Then transfer the contents of this pot to the other pot along with the remaining tomatoes and strawberries. Cover with water, a can of coconut milk, 2 stock cubes and season with salt and pepper. Simmer on medium until cooked – season at the end if necessary.
  • To make the rice; in the large pot where we caramelized the ‘long’ ingredient, add a cup of rice and sauté for a few minutes so it absorbs the flavours of the caramelized vegetables. Season with salt and crumbled 2 stock cubes and pour 2 cups of water into the pot. Give a quick stir and cover with a lid and simmer on low for about 15-20min or until all the water has been evaporated i.e. the absorption method.
  • To make the serving pesto; use all the tops reserved from the parsley, carrots, fennel and the rest of garlic chives and roughly chop into a fine mince. Transfer this to a bowl and season generously with salt and add enough EVOO for your liking (thick or thin pesto, it’s up to you!)
  • To serve, place rice into a bowl and top with curry and a spoonful of pesto – Enjoy!

The result was a beautiful curry served with a delicious seasoned rice. It’s unconventional true to Lynton’s nature since the usual suspects weren’t lurking (like garlic, ginger, coriander etc.) but the flavours remained the same! Why? Many, many ingredients have very similar chemical compounds and flavorants that can be easily substituted for another. But why do we need to know this? Farmers have it tough. With the changing seasons, it’s impossible to continuously grow certain ingredients all year round. They know what’s best in season, they grow what’s best in season and most importantly sell what’s best in season. To best support the farmers, we need to buy directly from them and not be so fixated on the ‘perfect’ ingredient. Without farmers, the culinary and food eco-system would very quickly descend into chaos!

It’s been fun blogging these workshops over the last 5 weeks and I hope a lot of lessons and key take-outs gained. It’s important that we remember these for the future as society grows and demands more food and as a result wastes more food. If we can start being more conscious now, it will have a flow on effect into the future. Remember: obviously the question now is not ‘how’ but when will you start?

Til next time! We have some more projects coming up soon so stay posted!

Blog by Kameron Chan, Freelance Food Consultant – Marketing and Promotions, for Melbourne Farmers Markets.