Massimo Mele

Massimo Mele speaks of his passion for food and family at the Rokeby kitchen event.

By Paul O'Rourke

Chef and Loaves and Fishes ambassador Massimo Mele (pictured) says he's overwhelmed when he sees rescued Tasmanian produce being used to feed the state's most vulnerable, train food heroes, and build a sense of community around the table.

Speaking at a special preview of the new Loaves and Fishes kitchen at The Grace Centre, Rokeby, the husband, father-of-three, and restaurateur said nothing went to waste in his childhood home in Glenorchy where special events and family squabbles were celebrated, commiserated, or settled around the table.

Massimo said the Tasmanian school lunch pilot where students in 15 schools are fed a healthy meal one to five days a week reminded him of living in Italy where all students were given free lunch each day and lingered over a meal.

"Everything revolves around food," he said.

"It's overwhelming to see the impact of (Tasmanian) students having a place where they feel comfortable and look forward to enjoying delicious and nutritious food."

Loaves and Fishes, in partnership with School Food Matters, has produced menus, trained school canteen staff, and prepared many of the meals used in the school lunch program.

Massimo is passionate about his three young children growing, sharing, and enjoying food.

"My son, who is 6, wanted me to to take into our garden this morning to pick gooseberries to take to school," he said.

Loaves and Fishes CEO Andrew Hillier (pictured below) said the school lunch program at Rokeby Primary School had resulted in a student asking for the recipe so his mother, who never cooked, could make the dish at home.

"The school principal came up to me at an event and thanked me for the positive impact the program was having at the school," he said.

"We sent the recipe home and now that family is sitting around the table having dinner together."

Andrew said the southern kitchen would produce more than 5000 meals a week, be used to teach cooking and nutrition, and provide employment opportunities for Tasmanians from challenging backgrounds.

Read more about how a notorious former pub is being transformed into a community hub and emergency food powerhouse.

Andrew Hillier