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Open Table was founded in February 2013 by five RMIT students/alumni who wanted to “use surplus food to create magical community feasts”. They kicked things off with dinners at Neighbourhood House in Brunswick, and one year on, they’re dishing up in Fitzroy, Collingwood and Fawkner with Perth, Sydney and Brisbane now hosting their own.

Food redistribution is the name of the game. Melbourne organisations Second Bite and Foodbank rescue and donate food that would otherwise go straight to a landfill and Open Table volunteers whip it up into a multi-course meal.

The eats are primarily vegetarian: bowls of fresh salad; trays of herbed potato cubes. The standout dish on my visit is a piping-hot mushroom and kale salad, bookended by more bread and cake than can be eaten, so we all go home with a bag in tow. If you’re handy in the kitchen, you can offer to help cook, or simply bring the heaping platters of food to the tables. Anyone can volunteer and no task is too small.

Part of Open Table’s purpose is to engage the local community – and it's working. I end up rubbing shoulders with local families with babies in tow; plenty of bike-riding 20-something hipsters from across town; and some old-timers who have been living here all their lives.

The atmosphere varies by location. At the Brunswick meals, friends of the organisers sometimes play acoustic music. At the Fawkner dinners, conversation rules.

Community spirit hasn't been this strong since the 1950s. I’ll eat to that.

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By Theresa Winters   |  

Open Table: Brunswick details

43A De Carle St, Brunswick 3056

Telephone 03 9386 9418

Date Sun 04 May 2014

Open 5-8pm

Brunswick Neighbourhood House map

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