Top Chefs Unite to Combat Food Insecurity

Group photo of KiwiHarvest ambassadors

Top chefs unite to combat food insecurity with the launch of ‘KiwiHarvest Collective’ – including Peter Gordon, Michael Meredith
and more.

A new collective of iconic Kiwi chefs has come together under the KiwiHarvest banner to tell the organisation’s story and advocate for a more food-secure Aotearoa. Joining the existing ambassador, Peter Gordon, are four new recruits: Michael Meredith, Brent Martin, Kylee Newton and Alfie Ingham. Established in 2012, KiwiHarvest exists to address Aotearoa’s dual issues of food insecurity and food waste.

By rescuing and redistributing surplus stock from its 280+ food donors, they’re able to get food into communities across its five nationwide branches, delivering regularly to over 240 recipient charities. But there is so much more that needs to be done, and they are reliant on donations to enable them to meet this growing need.

The KiwiHarvest Collective aims to grow and nurture a community of like-minded people with a shared mission to raise awareness of and find solutions to these issues. The supergroup of culinary experts kicked things off with a volunteering session at KiwiHarvest’s Auckland warehouse at the end of March. Peter Gordon joined KiwiHarvest as its very first ambassador in 2021. An internationally renowned chef, Gordon has a repertoire of highly acclaimed restaurants under his belt, from Sugar Club, to Providores and Tapa Room, to his current focus, Homeland.

“Although we have plenty of kai in Aotearoa, many people are still going hungry.  Helping KiwiHarvest show this was why I came on board, but I realised that I needed support spreading the message. I asked some of my favourite Auckland chefs and foodies to help me, and with our combined voices I believe we can reach a much wider audience and get food where it needs to more easily,” explained Gordon.

The first of the new recruits is the brain and talent behind Meredith’s and Mr. Morris, Michael Meredith.

“KiwiHarvest has done so much good in trying to improve the way we deal with such an ongoing problem, one that we face every day. My involvement in the collective is a stepping stone to contribute some new ideas and to collectively, raise more awareness, “said Meredith.

Second to join is Chief Executive Chef of the 5-star Park Hyatt Hotel, Brent Martin.

He has played a pivotal role in the success of the hotel’s restaurants (including The Living Room, The Pantry and now, Onemata) and is excited to make real social change within our communities.

“It has always been at the top of my mind to use my culinary connection, knowledge and passion to drive support for those in need across Aotearoa – a cause that is way bigger than me. Food sustainability has become the forefront of what we, at the Park Hyatt do on a daily basis. We even have set targets for food waste and food donations each year.”

“I want to feel connected to the community, and by collaborating with an organisation like KiwiHarvest, I feel that I can make a real impact in people’s lives,” adds Martin.

Cook, author and preserver, Kylee Newton is known for launching the London-based preserving company, Newton & Pott which produced high-quality jams, pickles, and
chutneys with a focus on minimising food waste.

"My good friend Peter (Gordon) first alerted me to the great work KiwiHarvest were doing in reducing food waste and how they distributed it amongst people in need. This is the main issue that surrounds my ethos in cooking; preserving food is at the heart of using up seasonal gluts, and giving food longevity so it doesn’t go to waste.”

“With food costs increasing, what better time to address this issue for the future of our community, and for the health of our planet. Awareness starts within the home and I will do all I can to spread this message - I see the KiwiHarvest Collective as a perfect platform to do so,” said Newton.

And finally, UK-born Alfie Ingham has signed up, having worked in some of the best restaurants in NZ. He was part of the award-winning Hugo’s Bistro team, and prides
himself in partnering with smaller local growers, farmers, hunters and fishermen, to highlight the hard work that goes into producing quality, sustainable food.

“I’ve always believed that good food should be accessible to everyone, and the more I learned about food waste and food insecurity, the more I wanted to help an
organisation do the right thing. I’m excited to meet the amazing people working hard behind the scenes and I’m hoping to make real tangible change with food
insecurity in New Zealand,” concludes Ingham.

Why now?

The lingering impacts of Covid-19, the rising cost of living and natural disasters have meant more people than ever are doing it tough in Aotearoa – including those who wouldn’t stereotypically seek out food support.

KiwiHarvest Founder, Deborah Manning said, “Our hope is that by teaming up with these culinary experts, we can raise more awareness about the issues right here in
our backyard and offer practical solutions for people to take action.”

“Each of them brings enormous value to the table and the overall KiwiHarvest mission. Together, we can amplify the important mahi being done by our partners, volunteers and other food rescue organisations to make sure every Kiwi has access to nutritional kai before it goes to waste,” Manning concluded.

To launch the KiwiHarvest Collective, the team volunteered at KiwiHarvest’s East Tamaki warehouse, getting stuck into the hands-on work of sorting and packaging
donated and surplus stock (including apples, carrots, feijoas, and other fresh produce), to be distributed to recipients all over the country.