A simple but wonderful idea, Alischa Ross created A Beautiful Food Experience in 2017. It’s all about connecting people who are usually isolated through delicious local food experiences.
We chatted to Alischa, our latest Local Hero, about her journey to the South Melbourne Market and her experience bringing food to the community.
Hi Alischa! Tell us a bit about yourself
“I have had the privilege to spend all of my working life in the community sector – working for things that make a positive social difference to our communities. Building a community organisation in my early 20's from the ground up helped me learn the importance of balancing strategy, with the flexibility to seize opportunities and craft creative, engaging solutions for social impact.
I went on to spend 13 years’ as CEO guiding the development of that small NGO into a national youth health promotion organisation. That journey taught me the importance of really understanding your 'why'. Then, always linking that purpose back to the community programs you design, and how you communicate the story of the impact they generate.”
Describe ‘A Beautiful Food Experience’
“We started A Beautiful Food Experience because nothing brings people together like sharing a meal. But it’s about much more than just feeding people.
A Beautiful Food Experience supports people experiencing isolation because of life’s many challenges; whether that’s ageing, physical and mental health issues, language barriers or access to safe and affordable housing. This project exists because everyone deserves A Beautiful Food Experience.
For the past year and a half, we have been bringing joy to up to 100 people each month who come together from over 20 community service organisations. The guests are welcomed and looked after by our team of over 40 volunteers. The project is powered by our volunteers and made possible with generous support from four restaurants: Köy Restaurant, Simply Spanish, Paco Y Lola and Claypots Evening Star, alongside support from the City of Port Philip and South Melbourne Market.”
What’s your inspiration to do what you do?
“I am blessed to love my job helping others create social impact. I also know that after a life working in community services, I need to always be putting some direct energy into running on the ground programs that address gaps and find opportunities to bring joy to people’s lives.
The thing I love most about A Beautiful Food Experience is that it’s a model based on being resourceful with things that already exist in our communities. Our job is about coordinating and connecting the dots so that local restaurants, local community services and local volunteers can come together to do something simple, yet so important. We help people feel connected and included through the chance to share a beautiful meal and conversations.”
Tell us about your favourite places in the City of Port Phillip
“Without a doubt, the South Melbourne Market! It has such a village feeling about it. I grew up shopping at fresh markets with my grandparents, and the love of heading out to the market on weekends is still a favourite part of my week.
There’s often live music to be heard coming from Claypots Evening Star, and as a seafood lover, that’s always one of my favourite spots.
I think the City of Port Phillip is one of the most progressive city councils. Their support not only for A Beautiful Food Experience, but their history of supporting new and innovative ideas to foster spaces, places and programs that drive community connections is a big part of what makes the local area so vibrant.”
Find out how you can get involved with A Beautiful Food Experience. If you enjoyed Alischa’s story, check out more City of Port Phillip Local Heroes now.