Queenstown-Wānaka chefs battle for best food hacks to save waste

by Kim Bowden - May 30, 2024

A food rescue charity is pitching Queenstown's chefs against Wāanka's in a fun campaign aimed at reducing waste and making money go further.

KiwiHarvest, known for collecting leftover food from cafes and supermarkets destined for the dump and redistributing it to those who otherwise might go hungry, has today launched 'Hackoff'.

The three-week campaign brings together three chefs from each side of the Crown Range in a series of head-to-head battles to find the best 'hacks' for turning normal household food items too often thrown out into delicious meals instead.

Gary Hough, who heads the charity in Queenstown, says offering a solution to commercial food waste is generally his focus, but household food waste is a big issue too.

He says it is responsible for a big chunk of the organic material heading to landfill in the district, and that got him thinking.

"I was looking at how we could influence that, and save people some money by maximising the food they already have."

Over the coming weeks KiwiHarvest will be publishing short videos of each chef pairing battling to transform their given food item into something appetising.

Also available will be a free eBook that anyone can download with all the hacks and recipes included.

Mr Hough says he wanted to present the waste-saving ideas in a fun way to engage a good mix of people, not just "foodies".

"To open people's eye to what the possibilities are."

So, what's a top food tip Mr Hough's gleaned as he's worked with the food experts to create the campaign or, in his line of work, was he already an eco warrior minimising waste in his own home?

"Oh no, I was terrible...There are things you just throw out without even thinking about it - you know, beet stems and broccoli stalks, and excess bread. Then there's the fruit in the lunchboxes."

Now, he takes the leftovers from the lunchboxes and turns it into smoothies.

He says the kitchen re-creations he saw during the filming made "a lot of sense".

"And they were all delicious."

KiwiHarvest's campaign is supported by the Queenstown Lakes District Council's Waste Minimisation Community Fund, which this year divvied up a $50,000 funding pool to "community projects that encourage enduring change in behaviour".


Keen to learn some food hacks to save waste and the household budget? Check out KiwiHavest's Hackoff webpage here.

KiwiHarvest also now has its own Facebook and Instagram pages, where new hackoff videos will be shared in the coming weeks. 

Main image (Supplied/KiwiHarvest): KiwiHarvest Queenstown manager Gary Hough, left, is playing off some friendly Queenstown-Wānaka rivalry to get households thinking about food waste.


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