At Honest Crust, we asked some amazing FareShare charity chefs to invent some seriously festive-flavoured sandwiches. Not only do they taste great (of course) – but these limited-edition Christmas sandwiches highlight the work of charities supported by FareShare.
For some of us, the best thing about Christmas is plenty of food. Maybe smoked salmon and prawns to start, followed by a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Or maybe some kind of exploding Xmas pudding, cheese board or chocolate yule log, then the inevitable loosening of belts and food sweats to finish.
But many won’t be as lucky. It’s a time of year that’s always extremely busy for food charities. Our partner FareShare safely diverts surplus food through its UK-wide network of frontline charities fighting food poverty during the festive season (and throughout the rest of the year too). We caught up with the chefs behind our Christmas sandwiches to talk about all things food waste and charity related.
Rosie is Open Door's chef and loves using FareShare's ingredients to make exciting food and popular, nutritious meals that the guests look forward to. Cheltenham Open Door is a homeless shelter in Cheltenham that offers a space for companionship and hot meals, on-tap hot drinks, breakfast and more.
Jessie (daughter) + Jill (mother)
Jessie founded Pulp Friction with her mum, Jill. Pulp Friction Smoothie Bar Project gives young adults with learning disabilities the opportunity to develop work-readiness, social and independence skills by taking smoothie bikes to different community events, such as schools, youth clubs and play schemes.
How and why did you first get involved with helping at the charity?
Rosie: I found Open Door through my brother, who had used their services and subsequently got a job with them. I started volunteering weekly and, five years later, I took over his role as chef when he had a triple heart bypass.
Jill: My daughter Jessie is the inspiration behind Pulp Friction. When she left college, she wanted a job like lots of her non-disabled friends had. We looked around and couldn't find anything that could provide what she was looking for, and so we decided to get something started ourselves.
What’s the best part of your job?
Rosie: There's so much! I like solving problems for guests, and this role gives me so many ways to do that. But my favourite bit is using our surplus ingredients from FareShare to make food that makes our guests happy.
Jessie and Jill: The excitement of seeing what surplus food we receive from FareShare and then the challenge of cooking up something delicious. We love to see our members learn a new skill or recipe and then hear back from their families and carers that they’ve made it at home using the skills they’ve learned with us.
What was your inspiration behind your Christmas Limited Edition sandwich?
Rosie: In our family, we eat Christmas lunch late, so whoever is in the house usually shares a nice breakfast. Sometimes that's toasted panettone with butter or kippers, but my favourite is smoked salmon and poached eggs on muffins. I wanted to recreate that bit of Christmas morning magic with my sandwich.
Jill: Jessie has oral dyspraxia and often struggles to eat certain types of food. Jessie’s Christmas dinner is always different from the rest of the family, and so she thought about what she likes to eat and what she sees others eat and gave it a 'Christmas twist’.
What advice would you give to our readers when it comes to volunteering or working for a charity?
Rosie: Volunteering or working for a charity often allows you to make a profound and direct impact on someone's life and see the results first-hand. Being part of Open Door is an enriching experience all round.
Jessie and Jill: It’s a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and feel that you’re making a difference. It gives you a sense of belonging and purpose. That helps to beat loneliness and is good for your mental health too.
What special food, meals or recipes do you make with the surplus food at Christmas for your charity?
Rosie: At Christmas, we run a 24-hour shelter, where our guests can come and have a proper Christmas. But, it's not just Christmas when we have brilliant meals. FareShare means I've made Aberdeen Angus ribeye steak days, salmon en croute, and smoked salmon and asparagus pasta.
Jessie and Jill: We like to 'christmasify’ soups, and we also make a Christmas Pie to show our customers different ways of using up their Christmas leftovers.
What does the day to day look like working with FareShare? How beneficial are they to your charity and the work going on there?
Rosie: Open Door receives no funding at all. Everything we do is only possible because of donations. The food we serve comes mainly from ingredients delivered by FareShare. On a Thursday, a refrigerated truck rolls up with a vast selection of exciting, fresh ingredients. As the chef, I have fun inventing a week’s menus from an entirely random selection of stuff.
Jessie and Jill: All our menus at our canteen are influenced by what we receive from FareShare. The team at FareShare East Midlands have supported us throughout our journey. As well as the deliveries we receive directly from FareShare, they’ve also introduced us to local supermarkets and food producers, enabling us to collect surplus food directly from them.