To coincide with National Volunteers’ Week, FoodCycle is calling on the nation’s home chefs and dinner party hosts to bring their skills to their local FoodCycle community meal.
Following on from our involvement with the Creative Shootout, FoodCycle has been working with the winning agency, Red Consultancy, and all the media partners that have donated ad space, to create our largest volunteer recruitment campaign ever!
We began by conducting research which revealed the popularity of hosting dinner parties. The study of 2,000 adults found 72% of people that have ever held a dinner party, enjoy hosting rising to 90% for people aged 25-34.
While over one fifth (23%) would like to extend their hosting or cooking skills by sharing them with the local community. When asked what qualities makes a good host, being welcoming (74%), relaxed (64%) and attentive (53%) are some of the most important elements.
Mary McGrath, CEO, FoodCycle said, ‘’Week in, week out, thousands of volunteers across the country help transform surplus food into delicious vegetarian meals for anyone that needs them, no questions asked.’’
“As a nation of dinner party hosts and home cooks, we want to encourage more people to take that skillset from the home and extend to the wider community. Over the last year, we have seen a 59% increase in the number of community meals being served and with cost of living and rising food prices, we anticipate this demand will continue to increase. Volunteers Week, which starts today and runs until 7th June presents the perfect time for people to get more involved.”
One of our longstanding volunteers is, Chris Sim, who to date has help cook over 2,000 community meals a year at the Finsbury Park Project. Chris and the team love to experiment with their food, taking inspiration from around the world and cooking for around 40-50 guests every week.
The key to success? Chris said it’s about the art of collaboration combined with delegation – pooling ideas from many different people (or cookbooks), then getting people to buy into the idea, followed by delegating individual tasks, that lead to a top-notch result.
Inspired to volunteer?
Hosting a dinner party? Read Chris’ top tips!
When preparing for a dinner party, Chris says hosts need to learn the art of delegation, not sweat the small stuff – and create a ‘timeline’ of the meal to make sure it goes to plan. Chris adds, ‘’When you are preparing food and a lovely occasion for many people, as soon as you relinquish a little bit of control and realise you can’t do everything – things tend to run a lot smoother.’’
- Collaboration enables delegation – pooling ideas from many different people, then getting people to buy into a shared vision for a meal, will make those helping you more motivated.
- Utilise ideas from your travels or family and friends from other parts of the world. Try to remember that dish, flavour combination or ingredient that made your holiday that little bit more memorable.
- Although it is easier said than done, don’t fret about the smallest details – as long as it’s done with love and care, your guests will appreciate it.
- Pre-planning is a must when you have many mouths to feed, creating a timeline of prep – which includes everything from when the food needs to go into the oven to dressing the table – can help to create a slick process to getting everything served on time.
- Try to smile, relax and even have a laugh during the process – you’re more likely to enjoy cooking, which will translate into tastier, more memorable food.