Don’t waste it, eat it – it’s delicious, says Jamie Robert Johnston of Everybody Eats.
All these recipes are based around reducing the amount of food we waste. It’s about being playful and clever with the not- so-pretty bits, utilising the whole ingredient and researching what can be done with the lesser-liked stalks, leaves and leftovers. I’ve gone fully vegetable-based for all these recipes: don’t get me wrong I love meat (slow-braised beef cheeks, a crispy pork belly, some bright red and sticky pork neck char siu to name a few), but our world’s climate and the future of our planet depend on us to watch what we consume and discard. I’ve spent many years trying to find my voice as a chef and be the chef I want to be, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to practise what I preach, regardless of what the food trends are.
Before I took the role of head chef at Everybody Eats, I co-owned an award-winning food truck named Judge Bao and that was an amazing ride. I was also guest chef tutor at the Auckland Fish Market Seafood School. My favourite part was having the ability to give back to great organisations such as Ngā Rangatahi Toa, but I found my true calling at Everybody Eats.
It really hit home seeing how many people we help, and for me it brought back lots of memories from my own childhood. Now that I’m in my late thirties I don’t often think of how my start out in life wasn’t the best – 25 foster homes and being separated from my paternal sister. I was adopted when I was five years old, and I never looked back. I always worked hard to never end up back where my life started. New Zealand has been very good to me and my career. Even though I’ve had issues with homesickness and some bouts with my mental health, I wouldn’t change a thing.
At Everybody Eats I don’t know what produce I’m getting from day to day, so I must use my cunning, compassion, creativity and a lot of bananas.