Lentil as Anything is a unique not for profit community organisation. At our core are the pay as you feel restaurants where customers give what they feel the food is worth and have the opportunity to contribute towards a world where respect, generosity, trust, equality, freedom and kindness rule.
Our philosophy has been working successfully for over 13 years now, with three long-standing restaurants in Abottsford convent, St Kilda and Footscray, a growing involvement in education and ongoing community projects.
Come to one of our restaurants for lunch or dinner or even breakfast at Abbotsford convent and in St Kilda (see ‘contact us’ for details on opening times)
Choose what you’d like to eat
Enjoy a delicious meal, have a chat, listen to some music in a warm community space
Reflect on your feeling and decide how much you want and can contribute to this unique experience, and put some money in one of our magic boxes in the restaurant (EFTPOS also available at all our restaurants).
Be part of a unique financial model that is centred on the values of trust, generosity and respect that gives people the opportunity to eat out and be social regardless of their financial situation. Why do we do this? Because Everyone has a right to feel valued and respected, money should help bring people together not divide us.
We would love to welcome you as part of our community. We extend our hospitality offering you vegetarian cuisine cooked with love and gratitude. Our unique financial model relies on your generosity in order to pay our rent, utilities, wages and stock.
Caring for people: Provide a wholesome and nutritious meal where money is not a concern.
Promoting Multiculturalism: Fostering an environment of inclusion and not exclusion.
Reforming Society: Acting on the structures of society to restore justice.
Extending/Spreading it’s ethos and values: Hiring volunteers, the long-term unemployed and the marginalised.
Encouraging: Young people to be active citizens and get involved in community based initiatives.
Human Dignity: Respecting the sanctity of life and affirm the worth and capacity of all people.
Justice: Acting with integrity and fairness, without discrimination, and being an advocate for the disadvantaged by managing all resources responsibly.
Hope: Work for reconciliation, healing and transformation of all people.
Compassion: Engaging others in the spirit of inclusion and addressing their needs.
Community: Owning our common humanity as we engage with people, working and journeying together, for mutual capacity building.
Tasneem Chopra, Chair
Currently a Curator at the Immigration Museum, Tasneem runs a Cross Cultural Consultancy, delivering presentations and projects.
Tasneem was listed in The Age Magazines Top 100 as one of Melbourne’s most influential “Movers and Shakers” of 2008, then in 2009 the ‘Australian Magazine’ hailed her as one of 100 Emerging Leaders for her expertise in cross-cultural training.
Aside from her Lentil obsession, Tasneem Chairs the Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights, and is an Ambassador to Possible Dreams International, a Swaziland based NGO empowering communities affected by disease and poverty.
Both her personal and professional experience inform Tasneem’s outlook on our cultural landscape, where she advocates for social change and justice.
Listen to Tasneem’s speech at TEDxMelbourne: Don’t Believe the Hype, Exceed It – The War Against Stereotypes
Shanaka is the Founder of Lentil as Anything. Originally from Sri Lanka, Shanaka travelled extensively, sharing the lives of indigenous people around the globe.
He opened the first Lentil as Anything in 2000 and has since then been increasingly involved in projects addressing social justice issues.
In 2007, he won the Australian of the year – local hero award.
Jennifer has a background in product design, interior architecture, theatre, and community cultural events. Her enthusiasm and willingness to lend a helping hand compliments her passion for problem solving and interactive activities. Her latest endeavour involves sharing meals with her Sudanese friends as part of her work in bringing together African and Vietnamese communities in a friendly and harmonious way.
Christopher Lappas, PhD
Christopher Lappas is co-founder and director of boutique publishing house Ilura Press. His academic qualifications and interests include ethics, psychoanalysis, creative writing, and media arts. He has been employed as a professional musician, songwriter, photographer, and newspaper editor-in-chief. His published works include poetry, fiction, interviews, reviews, advertising copy, essays, and plays. Christopher has been a member of numerous university and arts funding-body advisory boards and panels.
Megg is currently researching biotechnology’s possible contributions to the architectural imagination for her PhD studies at RMIT. She has a Masters in interior design but practices in all the design arts, teaches history and theory of space at Monash and RMIT, runs Bennett’s Lane Jazz Club, is a founding member of Brolly Studios, and is a proud mum. When not working, teaching, or parenting, Megg somehow manages to fit in her other interests that include poetry, philosophy, film, music, dreaming … and living!
Host of the international community at the Australia-Pacific Centre for Initiatives Of Change for 28 years
Co-ordinator of the Life Matters life-directions and leadership course in Melbourne for 20 plus years
Committee member, Asia-Pacific Youth Conferences
Committee member, Sri Lankan peace and reconciliation initiative
Committee member, South Sudanese national reconciliation project
Travelled extensively in Asia including 7 years in India and 12 visits to Cambodia
Musician, singer and songwriter – participated in 3 international musical shows
Training in centre management, modern languages
Lentil as Anything began in 2000 at St Kilda. Its founder was living in a tent. At the time, money was influencing the trends in the community, leaving many disenchanted. Lentil as Anything aimed to re-engage those who where left behind. It seemed that money was often a barrier to people participating. It was decided that we would have no fixed prices for food. Instead of a cash register, a box was placed on the counter. We used the money left in the box to run the restaurant. Money became a unifying force. Trust began to feel at home. The quest to prove that the inherent goodness in everyone is an abundant resource is alive and growing – with every meal.
|2000||First Lentil as Anything opened by Shanaka Fernando in St Kilda|
|2001||Kitchen was run by Moksha – a polish Jew 67 years young who had cooked in an ashram in India for 17 years. Moksha lived in a cardboard humpy in the back of the restaurant.|
|2005||Lentil as Africa opens to provide Muslim African women with the skills to run their own restaurant. Win AMES Community Contribution award.|
|Lentil as Anything Abbotsford opens and Lentil as Anything becomes incorporated non-profit organisation.|
|2006||Lentil as Anything awarded diversity at work award for the employment and inclusion of culturally and linguistically diverse Australians.|
|2007||Lentil won a private ruling with the Australian Tax Office – exempting the pay as you feel philosophy from having to pay GST.|
|Shanaka Fernando (Founder of Lentil as Anything) awarded Australian of the year award as local hero.|
|2008||Lentil as Anything is invited to run the Collingwood College. First vegetarian – pay as you feel canteen in Australia or in the world. Jewish Democratic society hosted for its annual Dinner and is cooked by a palestinian refugee in the restaurant.|
|2009||We introduce African food to Victoria Wimmera Region accompany 100 or so people from refugee backgrounds to plant trees, cook, dance and spend the weekend with farming families.|
|Lentil as Anything Footscray opens at Barkly Hotel.|
|2011||Lentil’s first money box is displayed at Museum of Democracy, Canberra because it gives people the freedom to eat as equals. Freedom and equality is the foundation of Democracy.|
|The sign says: “The Lentil as Anything restaurants founded by Shanaka Fernando invite diners to anonymously pay what they can afford, or what they feel the food and experience are worth. These restaurants are run as part of a not-for-profit cooperative that provides training opportunities and assistance to marginalised people.
‘The wok and donation box have enabled me to give back to the country that welcomed me from Sri Lanka. They are symbols of tolerance, equality and freedom. These are essential aspects of democracy and Lentil as Anything, where people donate according to their circumstances yet eat the same meal.’
Founder of Lentil as Anything, 2010″
|2011cont.||“Lentil as Anything: Food, Culture, Community” book launched.|