It wasn’t supposed to be easy organising a fund raising event and raising money for The Hunger Project; a Not for Profit I support. It was supposed to be an uphill battle getting people to donate their time and money. It was supposed to be time consuming and not something you could fit into an already busy life. And yet the reality of it is that there are a LOT of generous and supportive people out there… this was clearly evident in the ease in which we were able to pull off this fund raising event!
Firstly, the management team at MCIE were so open to the idea of donating the MCIE Hospitality Kitchens for a cooking event fund raiser. They also generously agreed to foot the bill for the ingredients. Next, a friend who was a trained chef happily agreed to donate her time to teach the class for free. We set a date and within 3 weeks, friends and friends of friends had spread the news and we now had a full class (and also raised a cool $1100 in the process)!
[divider scroll_text=”What an achievement!”]
Total raised: $1,100
And the result?
Last Saturday, 12 guests came together for 4 hours to learn 5 special new recipes. They were taught by Chef Tamaki Nakatani who is Osaka born and now lives in Melbourne. She weaved in the recipes her mother taught her with stories about life in Japan. These recipes have special meaning because in Japan, mothers would prepare food to fit into little bento boxes that their children would bring to school. The food had to be balanced and nutritious as well as fresh to last until break time. And Chef Tamaki drew on her childhood memories to teach the class; with each recipe something her own mother had prepared for her as she was growing up.
We started with chicken karaage which is the Japanese version of fried chicken marinated in ginger, garlic and soy sauce; then fried to crispy perfection. The students got into the thick of the action; with some new slicing and dicing skills. This was followed by a lesson in putting together a fresh potato salad and a cold spinach appetiser with toasted sesame seeds.
Mayhem ensued when it was time to prepare tamagoyaki, a sweet Japanese style omelette with student ‘chefs’ dropping eggs onto the floor which caused lots of laughter to erupt. The students soon got the hang of it and at the end of the session were rolling the triple layer omelette with ease. Chef Tamaki also shared her famous pumpkin pudding recipe which had a smooth custard like consistency.
We then moved on to the star of the show … magnificent, hand rolled rice balls! Students gathered into groups of 4 and worked on shaping their rice balls which they filled with 3 separate fillings of salmon, tuna and sour plum. The students then had to pack all 5 dishes into a little bento box. Creativity and improvisation came to the fore with each box looking vastly different depending on the maker of the box. The boxes were colourful and filled to the brim with meaningful Japanese goodies that showcased a mothers’ love for her child. Individual little sticks with a flag on top of the cherry tomato added the finishing touch to a bento box any child would be proud to show their friends during lunch!
At the end of the engaging class, everyone headed to the kitchen area to tuck into their creations. There was a whole lot of teamwork, positive energy and love in the kitchens that morning and I felt humbled to have been a part of it. There is often times so much bad news in the world but for a few hours, we kept it at bay. We cooked, traded stories, made new friends, learned new recipes and skills, laughed and shared food together. Apart from the whole experience, we were also supporting education programs so villagers in countries like India and Bangladesh could end their own hunger. When the last guest had departed and the kitchen was clean again, I couldn’t help but think that I’d just found my perfect way to spend a Saturday.
More about The Hunger Project
The Hunger Project (THP) is a global, non-religious, non-profit organisation working to end world hunger. We believe that hunger can end, and ours is the generation that can eliminate it once and for all. Our mission is to end hunger and poverty by pioneering sustainable, grassroots, women-centred strategies and advocating for their widespread adoption in countries throughout the world. In Africa, South Asia and Latin America, THP empowers people to lead lives of self- reliance, meet their own basic needs and build better futures for their children. THP programmes provide training and services to village partners covering: health, education and adult literacy, nutrition, improved farming techniques and food security, micro-finance loans, water and sanitation and HIV/AIDS prevention. For more information, head to their website.