This week I had the pleasure of chatting with Ravi Presser the Head Chef with Feast of Merit. Ravi is currently working on designing a bespoke menu for the upcoming Speak Easy we are presenting as part of the Festival of Live Art, 2016 at Footscray Community Arts Centre.
Tell us a little about yourself, your background and how you came to be involved in Feast of Merit.
I’ve been lucky enough to have been working on and off with YGAP (Y Generation Against Poverty) for some years now, when they approached me about opening Feast of Merit, I told them they were crazy to think a bunch of volunteers whom work for a charity could open a restaurant. Two years on we have served over 250,000 customers, turned over 5 million in revenue and have a very sustainable business which employs 35–40 people.
As for me, I’m just a regular guy with a passion for eating, football and cooking.
When we met recently we talked about the ugly food movement. What is this all about?
All the forgotten and wasted food that doesn’t get consumed due to its appearance. The big two supermarkets have lead us to believe all fruit and vegetables need to be perfect in size, shape and appearance, however they are negligent in the most important aspect FLAVOUR. The fact is so much of what we think is blemished and bad is actually perfectly fine to eat and taste delicious, its real food its not plastic remember!
What are your favourite things about working with YGAP and Feast of Merit?
Autonomy, they really believe in my vision and have trusted me the whole way along the journey. Doing what I love and also contributing to the greater good is also a very fortunate position I find myself in.
How is food important to you and your personal philosophies?
Food and what it can contribute to a society can be very special if it is produced with love and care and with the right principles. These are philosophies I am passionate about in life, a care for others and yourself, including love and ethics and justice.
If you could only eat one food item for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Tough one, but ill say Special Beef Pho. I could literally eat it breakfast, lunch and dinner! such fresh and clean flavours.
1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted worldwide each year. Do you think the Australian government should follow France’s lead and ban the big supermarkets from throwing out edible food or does the solution lie elsewhere?
It’s a travesty that there is enough food produced to feed the world over but as stated it goes to waste. The supermarkets on the image front do their part by teaming up with organisations like second bite and oz harvest, however they need to do a lot more. We all need to do a lot more, it needs to start at home, growing your own vegetables gives you a greater appreciation for them, little things like planning your week food wise will avoid wastage and also utilising left overs and turning them into a new meal is a good idea.