For the second year in succession, over 200 volunteer chefs gathered in London’s Borough Market for ‘Wok for 1,000’. Putting their wok skills to the ultimate test, the group, instructed by legendary chef Jeremy Pang, cooked 1,000 Asian inspired meals which were then shipped to multiple charities across London to feed hungry people.
School of Wok and Plan Zheroes, the charity committed to fighting food waste, repeated the success of last years’ inaugural event while educating people on the urgent issues of food poverty and waste. London based Plan Zheroes works with multiple companies and charities across the Greater London area to re-direct fresh food to hungry people as opposed to it needlessly being thrown away.
In 2015, UK households binned £13bn worth of food that according to research by Wrap, the waste and recycling advisory body almost half could have been saved and eaten. In other words, 4.4m tonnes of edible household food ended up in the trash.
“Everyone gets involved including volunteers and chef tutors, and the participants work hard. There are no massive expectations – we are here to do something good, and everyone gets their heads down and gets on with the task at hand.”
Jeremy Pang – Founder of School of Wok
What difference does it make?
Wok for 1,000 is not a traditional corporate fundraising event, and for School of Wok, it was vitally important to create additional social value. Volunteers prepare food that is shipped directly out to London charities who make sure those that need it are fed.
Keytree has been supporting Plan Zheroes for the past four years and developed the award-winning Zheroes App, an interactive platform that streamlines the process of getting leftover food from a range of outlets to local charities who then make sure the food is passed on to those that need it most.
Laura Hopper, CEO at Plan Zheroes said: “The partnership has evolved over the years – not only does Keytree continue to provide technical support and development of the food donation platform but they also raise money for our charity through individual fundraising and participating in Wok for 1,000.”
Jeremy Pang, chef and founder of School of Wok carried the message to the assembled crowd while also providing the entertainment – in between leading group chants to one particular Queen song. Jeremy was set up at the top table to remind attendees that sharp knifes cut more than vegetables – they cut off fingers too. He also gave an all-important session on how to make the perfect wonton – and the group went on to make more than 3,000 of these tasty little nuggets of flavour.
He said: “The first event made about £5k and we should make the same amount again this year but next year, we are hoping to hit the £10k mark.”
The money raised from Wok for 1000 goes to Plan Zheroes, a small charity with fundraised income of under £100,000 per year and according to Laura Hopper, CEO at Plan Zheroes money raised has a genuine impact. She said: “Last year the funds came at a crucial time and helped to fill a funding gap. They enabled us to keep our Community Manager working full time until further grants were received and helped us avoid major disruption to our work.”
An engaging day for everyone
The menu this year was a little bit more challenging, which was intentional, according to Jeremey Pang. He said: “I was pleased with the outcome as it worked much better – everyone was more involved throughout the whole session.”
The meals were delivered to a range of homeless charities including St Mungo’s, Welcome Homeless Day Centre and the soup kitchen at the American International Church and charities supporting the elderly such as Blackfriars Settlement lunch club and Silverlock Sheltered Housing Unit.
Jeremy explained that whatever happens, he wants Wok for 1,000 to be a regular fixture on the Borough Market calendar although the event did produce approximately 1,400 meals, which includes feeding the attendees and volunteers. He said: “Everyone gets involved including volunteers and chef tutors, and the participants work hard. There are no massive expectations – we are here to do something good, and everyone gets their heads down and gets on with the task at hand.”