Wherever you travel in the world, you will see people sharing a meal. More than just food, a meal is a platform for a sharing of stories and culture, of experiencing the lives of the people seat yourself with. Restaurant culture separates us from the group at the next table, and finances separate some from the table entirely. Lentil as Anything believe that everyone deserves a place at the table – a place to share their stories and hear the stories of others, to entertain or be entertained by one another’s skills or quirks.
Our restaurants have no set prices, and anyone is welcome to come and join us for a meal. Eat your fill, experience what the community has to offer, and pay as you feel into one of our contribution boxes. These contribution boxes are used to keep our restaurants running, and are Lentil As Anything’s sole source of income.
Lentil As Anything currently run five restaurants and a catering service in Australia, each with its own story, its own culture, and its own cuisine. The common thread among our restaurants is a dedication to high standards of food, service and culture. The secret to Lentil As Anything’s success has been catering to the community that each restaurants serves, encouraging them to support an organisation which helps to support them.
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
Most of the people you’ll see working at Lentil as Anything are volunteers – members of the community who are just as passionate about food, culture and community and we are. Some key staff, such as head chefs and restaurant managers, started out by volunteering at Lentil as Anything in their spare time. The underemployed, the homeless, refugees and the disenfranchised are all given an equal opportunity to gain skills and help their fellow humans at Lentil as Anything.
Shanaka Fernando 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.
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.
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
Katrina is originally from New Zealand and has so far spent her career working for not-for-profit organisations with a high need and value on volunteers.
She has a background in psychology and likes going in to bat for the under dog, and working with people to broaden minds and break down cultural barriers.
Katrina believes that the world would be a better place if there was a Lentil in every town.
Ken Baird was born in Oz and raised in Ireland – his dual citizenship has allowed him to travel extensively, immersing himself in various cultures and communities.
He is the founder of ‘3 Halves Design’ – a graphic design company for start ups and social enterprises – and has a background in various community projects and restaurant management.
Ken is a lover of life and people, and believes in the power of community.
Social Return on Investment
The highly anticipated short film produced for Lentil as Anything on the Social Return on Investment (SROI) report conducted earlier this year. This SROI evaluation delves into the impact the activities of Lentil as Anything has on the community. Three restaurants were included in this evaluation, analysing the social value created by Lentils during the 2014 financial year: Abbotsford, Footscray and St Kilda.
Report produced by Think Impact
SROI analysis by Thryza Kleine
with guidance from Ross Wyatt
Directed, recorded and edited by Marcelo Zerwes
Music by Ben Kelly
Full SROI report can be read here