Turning unwanted coconuts into 2000 curries, 10 tonnes of donated squash into soup, leftover egg yolks from 16,000 Black Star Pastry watermelon-strawberry cakes into banana curd and working out what to do with 800 kilograms of airplane food picked up from the domestic airport gate – these are just some of the things that Travis Harvey handles as executive chef of a food-rescue charity.
Working at OzHarvest means he’s had to be pretty creative: for instance, he takes the most wasted ingredient in Australia – bread – and transforms it into dishes like fried Lazarus bread or ramen noodles at OzHarvest’s pop-up cafe at Gratia in Surry Hills. He’s also encountered other inventive ways of saving waste, like Josh Niland’s attempt to incorporate cobia fat and fish scales into a chocolate bar dessert. Harvey has also collaborated with high-profile talent, like Massimo Bottura and even Cookie Monster. Through initiatives like the CEO Cook-off and OzHarvest food truck, he’s helped the charity send 90 million meals to people in need over its 14-year history.
Prior to his time at OzHarvest, he contributed to a stove-building project in Guatemala and endured Canberra restaurants that felt like episodes of Survivor. He even worked in kitchens that practise the very opposite of what he does today: extracting collagen from chicken wings, only to throw the wings out afterwards.
It was fascinating chatting to Travis – I think he’s one of the most resourceful and creative chefs in Australia right now. Make sure you check out his work at the OzHarvest Cafe pop-up, which is running at Gratia in Surry Hills until September.
You can listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts or download it via RSS or directly. You can also find it on Stitcher and Google Podcasts nowadays. And thanks to everyone who has left a nice review in Apple Podcasts or even just told me in person that they enjoy the podcast (like the two kind folks at OzHarvest who said complimentary things after I finished recording there – that was a great surprise)!
Photography courtesy of OzHarvest.