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Creating social harmony through eating

13 Nov 2014

Creating social harmony through eating Image

Southbank resident and foodie Wayne Parry is aiming to bring Melbourne’s global community together, one country at a time.

Born and raised in Melbourne, the well-travelled 43-year-old language teacher said he had always held an interest in helping people through a love for language and food.

Having recently returned to Melbourne and settling in Southbank just over a year ago, the former international studies graduate said he was determined to finish a social project he started as a university student.

“I covered one community at a time as part of a social project for the degree I was doing and it always felt a little bit unfinished,” he said. ““It’s been one of these burning desires of mine to get back into these communities.”

“I had all of this great material, covering restaurants for each community as places where people socialise but it was quite old and needed to be updated.”

Since returning, Mr Parry and a friend have established Food Social, a social movement dedicated to connecting people through the love of food.

What started off as a hobby has now snowballed into a regular event at the South Melbourne Market, with each dinner involving a three-course meal featuring a cuisine inspired by flavours and traditions from a different country.

The concept is based on bringing people together around a table in a social setting, while injecting a cultural aspect by spreading awareness about different parts of the world through food.

Working through a list of countries alphabetically, Mr Parry said he was determined to help provide each community with a platform to share their culture with others.

“I want to go through all these communities one by one – it’s a massive list and a very ambitious list. There are about 200 countries,” he said.

“The aim is to go through and just expose them one at a time and what we hope to do by this is to not only expose these communities but to get these communities to use this as a platform.”

“Who says there can’t be a restaurant in Melbourne for a place like Malawi, as ridiculous as it sounds, but it just encouraging people to say why not!”

Proceeds generated from the initiative are donated to a cause relating to each event’s chosen country.

With the current nature of discussion surrounding asylum seekers in Australia proving hard for many to swallow, Mr Parry said he hoped the initiative could be an effective way of breaking down barriers between communities.

“It’s the most harmless way of getting a whole lot of different people together at a table through food,” he said. “It’s where everybody just lets their guard down, lets their prejudices go and leaves their baggage at the door.”

“If we can learn to eat Afghan one day and Brazilian the next and so on, it will open up an understanding of what it’s like for people we know very little about.”

The next event, to be held on Saturday, November 15 at South Melbourne Market, will be themed on Afghanistan.

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