THOUGHT LEADER: Nick Loosley of Everybody Eats

A next-generation thinker on food security.

interview india hendriske photography adam bryce
source index issue nº01; buy it here now

Every Sunday to Thursday evenings, a mix of the wealthy, the very poor, and the in-betweens show up at Everybody Eats — a pay-as-you-feel Onehunga restaurant offering a three-course set menu. In a world where differences keep us divided, a space where common ground can be found is refreshing. Here, the common ground is that everyone’s hungry. And that’s a great reason to bring people together.

At Everybody Eats, food is mostly rescued, which means that if it hadn’t been turned into the exquisitely presented yet soul-warming dishes on offer, it would have ended up as waste. Looking at their menu, which changes every day, recent mains include “low and slow” venison ribs, soy and chilli-glazed pork, and herb-roasted cauliflower. There’s always a vegetarian option available.

Nick Loosley, founder of the charity, started the concept as a Monday night pop-up at Gemmayze Street in St Kevin’s Arcade. It’s still going strong, but the permanent space in South Tāmaki Makaurau has really strengthened the offering in a city notoriously expensive to live in. Since founding the charity two years ago, more than 30 tonnes of good-quality food has been saved from going to landfill, and more than 30,000 meals have been served, both to people who can afford to pay, and those who cannot.

“We don’t ask too many questions of our customers,” says Loosley. “We like Everybody Eats to feel like a normal restaurant. We want these people, regardless of whether they’re rich or poor, to come and feel like they’re in a restaurant and receiving a normal, what we’d call dignified experience,” he says. The restaurant exists on the belief that food is one of the best ways to bring people together. With the demand for food parcels at the Auckland City Mission increasing by 175 per cent from March to June this year, it’s a belief that also helps lessen the blow
of food poverty.

Although Loosley has to shut up shop in Aotearoa’s lockdowns, it hasn’t deterred him from plans to expand Everybody Eats this year. He’s hoping to test the concept in either Te Whanganui-a-Tara or Tauranga, and is currently undertaking research into the plan to open their next permanent restaurant in Tāmaki Makaurau. “Inequality in this country has changed massively since what it was like in the 70s or 80s,” he tells me. “We used to be considered this beautiful egalitarian society and now we’re massively unequal and we’ve got more people on the streets.”

As for tackling the issue of food waste, Loosley sees massive potential. If people keep adding value to food waste, like he’s set out to do, the culture will shift, he says. “There’s so much waste built into a capitalist food system, that it’s now been realised some of it has huge value. This landscape has the potential to change quite drastically.”

everybody eats

“We like Everybody Eats to feel like a normal restaurant. We want these people, regardless of whether they’re rich or poor, to come and feel like they’re in a restaurant and receiving a normal, what we’d call dignified experience.”

NICK LOOSLEY FEATURES IN INDEX ISSUE Nº01
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