Project 614 cookbook in line for major international award
The Melbourne Project 614 free cookbook, Meals to make ends meet, has been shortlisted for the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2023, which will be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, at the end of this month. The cookbook, compiled by Project 614 Hospitality Coordinator Adam Thomson, is on the shortlist for the major award in the ‘Fundraising – Charity’ category for the Pacific region.
The awards ceremony will take place in the Saudi Arabian capital on 27-29 November during the Saudi Feast, the largest culinary event in the Middle East. More than 200 countries take part in the awards.
“Every year, we have as many or more countries participating than the Olympic Games. Every country has a chance,” said Edouard Cointreau, President of the Gourmand Awards. “There is no other cultural event with so many countries participating for books and publications.”
Launched in March, Meals to make ends meet focuses on recipes based on everyday kitchen supplies but with additional tips to make the food budget go further. It includes suggestions on creating many variants from one basic recipe, basic chopping techniques, growing your own herbs, substituting ingredients if you don’t have something available, and minimising food waste.
Salvos Online Managing Editor DEAN SIMPSON spoke with Project 614 chef Adam Thomson about the award nomination.
Congratulations on the accolade Adam. What was Project 614’s reaction to being shortlisted for these awards?
We were absolutely thrilled. It’s really encouraging to know that something we put together to help with a local issue here in Melbourne has initially been so well received on a national level and now has even impacted people on an international level. We’re really proud of the book and what it stands for and are elated that it has made the shortlist for these international cookbook awards.
Why do you think the cookbook has been so popular and well-received?
I think the cookbook was very timely in regard to the economic climate that we’re currently living in, and as a result, a lot of people are feeling the pinch due to the rising cost of living in all areas. We are very fortunate to have a large community of friends and supporters who helped us with everything from printing the book to hosting the book launch in Melbourne Parliament House in March. (To read the Salvos Online story on the cookbook launch, click here)
What involvement did you have in the book?
I’ve been a chef for over 20 years now, and the book is a small collection of tried and tested recipes I’ve collected along the way ... a great deal of which we serve from our café here at Project 614 in the Melbourne CBD.
What was your reaction to being shortlisted for a prestigious award like the Gourmands?
Initially, I was absolutely shocked and wondered if the email from the Gourmand Awards was legitimate. After looking into it and realising it was real, I thought it must just be a recognition of The Salvation Army’s work, but to finally realise it is officially nominated for a Gourmand award is beyond my wildest dreams for this book. My hope in writing this book was only that I would help a few people be able to live more affordably and waste less in this financially turbulent time. To receive this sort of recognition has me lost for words.
How many copies have been printed so far, and is it still in demand and being distributed?
So far, thanks to our friends at Pressroom Partners, we have printed and distributed 50,000 copies of Meals to make ends meet across Salvo Stores and Centrelink offices nationwide, making it accessible to those who need it most. It is certainly still in demand, and we continue receiving requests about it. However, the demand has been so amazing that basically all of that initial 50,000 copy run has now been distributed. We do have a digital copy available now (see below) as well for those who missed out, but we are so glad that so many could get access to this resource that has hopefully been a help to them.
Have you had any feedback or heard from people who the cookbook has positively impacted?
Yes, we’ve had lots of feedback on the book, which has been amazing. A comment we’ve heard more than most is how people have loved that the recipes are down to earth and uncomplicated and how they can be made with everyday pantry ingredients. One time, while doing an interview about the book on a Canberra radio station, a listener texted in to say they loved the tips in the book on saving money by eating seasonally and using up leftovers, which was lovely to hear.
What happens if you win the category? Is someone going to Saudi Arabia to pick up the award?
If it did win, unfortunately, I won’t be travelling to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia to pick it up, although that does sound nice. But we would be honoured to receive the accolade if somehow it did in its category. However, we are already delighted that it has been nominated, which is much more than we were expecting.
Are there plans for another cookbook at any stage?
There is nothing official on the schedule, but the wheels are always turning and working out new recipes and different ways we can help people. So, all I’ll say for now is ‘watch this space’.
To download a digital copy of Meals to make ends meet, click here