Comfort - sometimes it just means a warm meal & conversation


Not long ago I was the chef at a remarkable café in
Newcastle, Australia.

Soul Café is situated above a bank with no street frontage, yet it is one of the busiest food outlets in the city. The café feeds the homeless. Soul Café feeds the homeless and the disadvantaged two courses every day for free.

My helpers in the café were volunteers or part of the Centrelink work for the dole scheme. Most of these amazing people had no commercial  kitchen experience. What they did have were huge loving hearts and a desire to bring love and comfort to others.

I loved my job.

I loved my job for so many reasons. I was surrounded by wonderful human beings - the volunteers and our guests - and I got to do something every day, that mattered. I was helping to make a difference to other people’s lives and making sure that they had the chance to eat healthy and delicious food at least once a day. It wasn’t just the food. It was interaction. For some, we who fed them, were the only human contact they had on a daily basis. Startling to think, isn’t it. Sad to know this is true.

Imagine 100 people taking the stairs each day knowing that not only would there be a lovely meal waiting for them, there would also be conversation and laughter, compassion and comfort. So how is a non-profit organisation able to feed these darlings each and every day? From the help of others. From businesses and families who give. From those who realise that comfort lays in their hands and hearts


Twice a week one of the wonderful volunteers Steve drives down  - in a donated vehicle - to Woolworths  and picks up the unwanted fruit and vegetables; perfectly good produce destined for the rubbish bin. Then over to the local fruit and vegie guy to do the same. He then brings it back to the café, we unload our bounty to discover what we’ve got to use. Dry goods and dairy products are brought in by other businesses and bread comes from a number of sources. All donated.

As a chef I love the challenge of coming up with creative menus using what’s available. It’s kind of like a mystery box but infinitely more rewarding. As a human being I love the fact that my skills and knowledge can be used in such a way as to provide help and comfort to others. All the photos here are taken by me to show just what we can do with ‘rubbish’. Every single piece of food shown here was to be thrown away. And this is just one café in one city.

Allow your imagination to fly for a moment. How many supermarkets are in your town? How many ‘best before’ items are thrown away on a daily basis? How much fresh produce is chucked out?Think about it. Over 600,000 children in Australia  go to bed hungry every night. In the lucky country.

I’m not getting on my soapbox here, I’m just stating facts. I’m also offering a story of love and care. A story of comfort for strangers by strangers. There’s always someone doing good in the world and the chance to present them to you is what it’s all about. Comfort...

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