A Bit About Me
How I found work as a vegan food waste chef abroad
Hello! My name is Josie, I’m a chef helping to reduce food waste and I’ve recently been on a journey to look for engaging work abroad, in Melbourne, Australia. I think searching for work overseas can be both exciting and daunting. Although there are heaps of opportunities, employers can often assume you won’t be sticking around for long, making the process of applying for jobs pretty lengthy.
If I were to give one piece of advice to my (slightly) younger self, it would be to not be afraid of asking for what you really want. I spent about six weeks applying for jobs and working in frustrating, boring temp roles before I finally sent out an email to an employer I’d been keen to work for since before leaving the UK. And guess what? They made an opportunity available. I think when you show that you are invested in a particular organisation and have relevant skills, you can’t go wrong! And if you don’t get a positive response, what have you lost? As the saying goes, we regret the chances we didn’t take.
Check out our other lifestyle blogs for more inspiring advice!
Now I Reduce Food Waste in Australia
Now I work as a chef for a community pay-as-you-feel vegan restaurant, Lentil As Anything. Since working for Lentil, I have developed a menu which operates almost 100% from produce that would have otherwise gone into landfill. Partnering with our sister food waste organisation has generated a constant supply of fruit, vegetables and bread intercepted from retailers and manufacturers, for all sorts of different reasons. Some fruit may be slightly too squishy, some carrots too wonky, or some bread a day past its best. But guess what? This stuff is perfect for jams, preserves, curries and croutons. So here are my 5 top tips for transforming your leftovers into something delicious and to simultaneously reduce food waste in your home.
Top Tips to Reduce Food Waste:
1. Preserve, pickle, infuse, ferment
Want a fun new hobby, as well as reducing food waste in the process? Learn to make a range of preserves, pickles, oil infusions and fermented veg. Squishy strawberries become delicious jams, past-its-best cabbage transforms into tasty kimchi and garlic skin infuses yummy garlic oil. Jar these up and you have homemade gifts that will keep all year long. There is an abundance of tips and recipes on the internet, covering everything from sterilising jars to balancing flavours.
2. Plan ahead
I know, you’ve probably heard this one before, but there’s definitely a reason I’m bringing it up again. If you’re going to end up eating out three times next week, why buy food for seven nights? Taking the time to think about what you really need for the week ahead will prevent half the shop ending up in the bin at the end of the week. And, for goodness sake, please don’t go shopping when you’re hungry!
3. Make and freeze soups, bolognese, casseroles and curries
You can throw pretty much any veg into these dishes. Make up large batches of leftover veg soup, freeze in portions and defrost when you’re in a hurry, or just can’t be bothered. You’ll thank yourself later (and so will your wallet) when you’re not reaching for the UberEats app.
Fancy a vegan picnic? Check out Kat’s vegan picnic ideas!
4. Be social!
Too much pie for you to finish? Invite the neighbours over! Can’t finish the banana bread you made from those overripe bananas? Take it to work! Food is an amazing way for us to connect with others and welcome people into our homes. I know it may be daunting at first, when you only ever see Margaret walking her dog in the mornings, but you’d be surprised how much people appreciate you extending the welcome.
5. Reuse stale bread as French toast, fried bread, croutons and breadcrumbs
We all know bread dries out pretty quickly, but there are so many other uses for bread beside your sandwich. Try dipping stale bread in a mixture of blended tofu and chia seeds, plant-based milk, sugar and cinnamon, before frying for a delicious French toast. Alternatively, blitzing old bread into breadcrumbs creates a versatile addition to your store cupboard. Use to coat homemade schnitzels or top your lasagne before baking for a crispy finish.
There are many, many more ways to reduce food waste in the home, but I hope these inspire you to get started!
Have fun in the kitchen! Josie x
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Josie Beth McCullen, a spectacular self-taught chef, has seen over three hundred tonnes of food saved from going into landfill and reworked for restaurants, business events and weddings.