Feeding the 1,000

Categories: News and previews

Luke Mackay joins 200 volunteers at the #wokfor1000 event, cooking food for 1,000 people who really need it: an experience so inspiring it gives him the chills

Half of the food produced in the world every year is wasted. Can you picture two billion tonnes of food? It’s mind-boggling isn’t it? Two billion tonnes of actual, edible, life nurturing food. Thrown away, incinerated, mulched and buried at the same time as just under a billion people ‘live’ their lives undernourished.

Here in the UK we top the EU league of food wastage, consigning 20 million tonnes quite literally to the bin. The good people at Borough Market, Plan Zheroes and School of Wok combined today to do something so inspiring that it’s still giving me the chills. I wandered down to the #wokfor1000 event at Borough’s fantastic Market Hall along with 200 other people, all in silly chef’s hats and with dangerously blunt kitchen knives to collectively cook 1,000 meals for those who really need it tonight.

Jeremy Pang, owner of School of Wok and an absolute dynamo of a man, was in charge and he led what was basically a three-hour cookery class for 200 people without breaking sweat. I would have been pulling my hair out, but he was charm and poise personified. It was a sight to see.


A hell of a sight
Apparently, we made 5,000 spring rolls, 2,000 soy and ginger chicken legs and 1,000 portions of chilli green beans for delivery all over the capital. I’ve got to tell you: 5,000 spring rolls is a hell of a sight and the logistics involved in turning boxes of donated produce into delicious meals delivered to the homeless via 200 not very talented chefs (yes, ha ha) was staggeringly impressive.

Borough Market has worked with Plan Zheroes since 2014 and has created over 50,000 meals from repurposed ingredients that would previously have been wasted. More than 80 per cent of food waste created by the Market’s traders and tenants is used in various ways. There is a very real chance in the not-too-distant future that Borough will attain zero food wastage. This must surely be the model to which we all aspire, at home, our businesses or our places of work.

An impossible choice
I’m rarely inspired these days, I’m curmudgeonly and cynical, but I had a spring in my step this afternoon. I felt like I’d contributed in a very small way to something big and important and I want to do it again. People in this country should not have to choose between heating their homes or eating. A mother shouldn’t have to fast so her children can eat. Seeing these people, so driven and purposeful, volunteering their time to make a very real difference to someone’s day left me feeling giddy and, I’ll be honest, a bit ashamed. As the law of sod dictates, to compound the latter I then won the raffle prize of a gastronomic guided tour of Borough Market. How we all laughed.

So, I’m going to do more. I don’t quite know what yet but should School of Wok or Plan Zheroes require my services at any time in the future, I’m in, I promise. Even if it’s just sharpening those bloody knives.