Wherever you travel in the world, you will see people sharing a meal. More than just food, a meal is a platform for sharing of stories and culture, of experiencing the lives of the people you 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 everyone 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 four 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 restaurant serves, encouraging them to support an organisation which helps to support them.
Caring for people: Provide a wholesome and nutritious meal on a pay-as-you-feel basis.
Promoting Multiculturalism: Fostering an environment of inclusion and not exclusion.
Reforming Society: Acting on the structures of society to restore justice.
Expanding our ethos: 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.
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
Judith has extensive experience in both industry and professional accounting. She worked for IBM NZ as a Project Accountant and outsourced her accounting skills to various businesses while working at Giles Croker and Associates. It was then that she was personally inspired to empower her entrepreneurial clientele to create an economic climate from which we can all benefit. Her public accounting career started with a suburban practice in Ivanhoe in 2006. Judith gained her CA SMSF Specialist award in 2012 from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia. Judith loves playing guitar and singing. Judith is fluent in English, Italian and Filipino.
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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