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Byron Shire
May 25, 2022

How chefs helped

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Two Northern Rivers’ chefs, assisted by a great team of local food businesses, raised over $170,000 from a GoFundMe which helped to deliver over 200,000 meals to communities cut off by floods. Pip Sumbak of Pip’s Plate and Wal Foster of Natural Icecream Australia responded as soon as they heard the news of those stranded; first by cooking at Bay Grocer in Byron Bay, and then at the Lion’s Club at Bangalow Moller Pavilion, utilising a refrigerated shipping container.

As a group of small business owners with their combined skillset they were able to set up a food hub; all done through a message thread, which grew day-by-day with volunteers divided into groups for transport, chefs, producers, sandwich making, and runners. 

Soon, another team of volunteers at Byron’s Beach Hotel started taking care of the ordering of bulk goods for the restaurants, since produce, food and containers were hard to come by. 

Five days in and people still didn’t have a reliable phone service; they had no WiFi, or fuel, and no idea which roads were safe to drive. Despite these challenges nearly every restaurant and chef in the Northern Rivers contributed their time and energy to the cause, including Three Blue Ducks, Bread Social, Bay Leaf, Fleet, Eltham Hotel, Paper Daisy, Frida’s Field, Barrio Eatery & Bar, The Diner Lennox, Harvest Newrybar, Salumi Australia, Lightyears and many more. 

People in cut-off areas were getting snippets of phone signal, and through social media discovered that Pip and Wal had hot meals and drinking water ready to go, and were calling them direct, in need of help – many people hadn’t eaten in days. Privately funded helicopters, boats, vans, jet skis, and community volunteer leaders got in touch and started distributing food to those stuck in the most remote areas and those on the roofs of houses…

Now that the immediate crisis has passed, Pip and Wal are using the GoFundMe money to supply fresh food to community hubs in the Northern Rivers for those left homeless – see @pipsplate or @naturalicecreamaustralia.

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  1. in Lismore, Mayfields Market Kitchen, have been working in the area near the Gallery which was totally devastated by the floods, My son turned up with his food van and went immediately into cooking, free meals or by donations. Some of the people paid, some very generously I have to say, he’s now been there for 3 weeks and there seems no end to folk wanting to eat his food. They have been cooking omelettes, dozens of them, daily, lots of suppliers donated food, such as eggs. Apart from this, with really great helpers, he does the farmers market at Lismore every Saturday morning and the support of the local people is just fantastic. Lismore should be proud of the way everyone has stepped up to help others out, this is why Lismore is such a great place to live, because of the people. Joyce Walters.


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