There is no misinterpreting Matt Preston’s zest for food. When he’s not talking about it, he’s writing about it, and of course, he is always savouring it. But it’s more than just an appetite for great flavour. Matt is passionate about sharing his respect for food and is putting his name behind SecondBite, an organisation committed to providing fresh, nutritious food for people in need.
More than five per cent of the Australian population is regarded as food insecure and as many as two million people a year access food relief programs. But, when it comes to food insecurity, Australians largely believe it is an issue not affecting our shores.
Is It Something We Should Be Thinking More About? “Yes” Matt Preston answers without pause. “It’s criminal that anyone goes hungry when we throw away so much fresh, usable food. “The issues of reducing food insecurity in Australia and minimising food waste are two of the most pressing problems in the professional sphere in which I operate. “SecondBite seeks to help address both.”
Taking on the role as ambassador for SecondBite was not a difficult decision for Matt Preston. He is working with fellow foodie Curtis Stone to raise the profile of the organisation and educate the public on its mission. And, the two are proving to be more than pretty faces on a poster; they are very hands on. At the 2013 Melbourne Cup carnival they actively sold Pin and Win pins, raising $520,000 for the organisation.
SecondBite Chief Executive Officer Elaine Montegriffo says: “We are very, very fortunate to have such passionate and dedicated ambassadors. “SecondBite is not just about getting calories to hungry people; we are dedicated to improving the nutrition of vulnerable Australians, ensuring they have access to the fresh food they need for their good health and wellbeing. “There is a really natural fit with this goal for Matt and Curtis, who are both passionate about ensuring everyone can eat beautiful, good food. “Matt worked incredibly hard during the carnival, raising awareness on television, radio and print media – opportunities that SecondBite would never have been able to secure alone.”
With the ability to use his media presence to promote SecondBite, Preston is pulling in potential supporters who can provide fresh produce as well as financial donations. Traditional food rescue programs focus on non-perishable packaged and tin ed food but with evidence demonstrating the nutritional importance of fresh fruit and vegetables, 85 per cent of the food SecondBite distributes is fresh fruit and vegetables.
“This year we will supply over 1,100 community food programs across Australia with 4.5 million kilograms of fresh health produce – enough for over 170,00 nutritious meals every single week,” Ms Montegriffo says.
The food is provided free of charge, saving agencies an estimated $9 million that can be reinvested in outreach programs or increasing the reach of their meal programs.
As well as getting his teeth into SecondBite, Preston is busily promoting his latest book Fast Fresh and Unbelievably Delicious. It’s proving to be as popular as his first collection 100 Best Recipes.
[hr]“The second book starts off with food that is more vibrant and summery – healthier even,” Preston says. “But, things quickly deteriorate like most of my good intentions.”
His favourite autumn recipe from the collection is pumpkin gnocchi with toasted pumpkin seeds and finely grated parmesan, burnt butter and currants. This issue of The Retiree Magazine features three more of his personal favourites in the recipe section.
When it’s dinner with wife Emma, who he describes as “more matter of fact and less flowery in her appreciation”, they enjoy a simply gnocchi, steak and salad. When the clan, including children Jonathon (13), William (11) and Sadie (9) gather for a meal, he’s likely to cook the lamb and pineapple braise from the first book, or one of the giant panacottas from Fast, Fresh and Unbelievably Delicious.
There’s no doubting that Preston has found his niche when it comes to combining a passion for cooking, with a skill for entertaining. Whether it’s being a food journalist, restaurant critic, recipe writer, ambassador or television personality, his inspiration never wanes.
He is also a great use of social media with a Facebook page exceeding 70,000 likes and Twitter account attracting 90,000 followers. “For me social media is about accessing the best foodie brains trust in the world – my followers. “The communication is very much two-way rather than one way.”
A third cookbook is in progress and he’s “fit and ready for action” for a sixth season of MasterChef, the program which made him a household name in Australia and an international celebrity in the 170 countries it is broadcast.
This season, he says, is “a return to the search for Australia’s best cooks, great inspirational food for talent amateurs chasing their dreams and a few big surprises in terms of radical changes to the show that don’t compromise its DNA.” When asked if there’s scope for a series featuring retirees in the kitchen he says “yes … but for George, Gary and I, what matters is whether they can cook”.
SecondBite was established in Melbourne in 2005 by Ian and Simone Carson. The duo felt impelled to act in response to the amount of food they saw being wasted while so many people were going hungry. From this, SecondBite has grown into a national not-forprofit with 53 employees rescuing and redistributing food in every state and territory in Australia. Operational warehouses are established in Melbourne, Geelong, Kilsyth, Sunshine, Hobart, Launceston, Brisbane and Adelaide, and Sydney will open shortly.
SecondBite CEO Elaine Montegriffo says the organisation helps a broad range of people.
“The sad reality is that there are people from all walks of life, all ages and all areas in Australia who simply do not have enough to eat. “And yet,” she continues, “we throw away $8 billion worth of food every year in Australia, most of which goes to landfill where it rots and emits harmful greenhouse gases.
“The most significant reason for people going hungry is lack of financial resources – when money is tight, paying rent and bills takes precedence over buying food. “Unfortunately, very few of us are completely immune to financial hardship and the food programs we supply feed a broad spectrum of people of all ages, some who have simply fallen on really bad times, across metro and regional Australia.”
As well as providing food free of charge to food programs across Australia, SecondBite invests in the development of nutrition education programs for community workers and their clients to raise awareness of the positive impact of healthy eating, how to access fresh food, food budgeting and storage and simple menus
[hr]“The issues of reducing food insecurity in Australia and minimising food waste are two of the most pressing problems in the professional sphere in which I operate.” Matt Preston[hr]
The organisation also supplies school breakfast programs, giving disadvantaged children a better start to the day and aiding their ability to concentrate and learn.
There are many ways to help SecondBite continue its work.
“A donation of $1000 will enable us to provide another 2500 meals,” Ms Montegriffo says. “The more funds we are able to raise the more healthy food we can provide to disadvantaged Australians and their families.”
SecondBite also relies on more than 600 dedicated volunteers to help collect and deliver fresh food. “We are always grateful for more volunteers,” Ms Montegriffo says with enthusiasm. Simply go to www.secondbite.org to find out how you can help.