Food and people the key ingredients

A community dining initiative is proving the adage to be true, that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach.

Kaitahi was set up by Sophie Barclay and Mike Legge, who is Auckland Council’s programme coordinator for Pt Chevalier Community Centre.

Theywanted to create an event where members of the Pt Chevalier community could come together to learn to cook and get to know each other.

KiwiHarvest collects food donations from supermarkets, cafes and caterers and provides Kaitahi with most of the produce they need to put on a dinner.

Maria Madill from KiwiHarvest says much of what supermarkets throw out can be salvaged.

“It doesn’t make any sense to throw food away and this food is bringing people together and empowering them to cook for their families.

“More often than not it’s the food that people are struggling to afford for their families like fresh fruit and vegetables,” she says.

Sunday Star-Times food columnist and chef Sam Mannering has come on board to share cooking skills with the residents.

“Going around to your neighbours for a cup of sugar doesn’t really happen anymore and people don’t really want to cook.

“You don’t have to be a chef but it’s conveying that sense of confidence,” he says.

Mannering says these days people increasingly go for easy options.

“It doesn’t give the family a reason to get together and prepare a meal,” he says.

Legge says the last two dinner events proved positive for the community.

Mannering wasn’t able to make the second event but his teaching proved invaluable.

“We had a lady who came to the first one and picked up everything that Sam had taught her,” Legge says.

“She was the head chef that night and what she prepared was just as good.”

Kaitahi is holding its inaugural Christmas dinner on December 3 at the Pt Chevalier Community Centre. The evening begins at 5pm with Mannering demonstrating how to glaze ham.

There will be an opportunity to make your own Christmas decorations and activities for the children.

Kaitahi is held every 2nd Wednesday of the month at the Pt Chev Community Centre. Visit for more information.

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