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In Los Angeles, CA Alejandro takes The Good Truck to Food Forward, a company collecting fresh produce to bring to hunger relief agencies and teaming up with chef Nyesha Arrington to thank them with a fresh, produce-forward meal. Presented by Land O' Lakes.
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- My name is Alejandro, and traveling is what I do. I'm taking the Good Truck across California to discover some extraordinary organizations and the people behind them. It's time we recognize the individuals that make it all happen. With the help of local chefs and our mobile kitchen, we're giving thanks, one meal at a time, to the good people who made their communities a great place. This is The Good Truck. Today we're in Los Angeles. Even if you've never been here before, it can feel familiar because of how prominent it is on the big screen. It's also the cultural center of southern California and food is a large part of that. With many diverse markets and abundance of high quality produce, it caters well to inventive and talented chefs, which shape a lot of the communities here. I'm on my way to volunteer at Food Forward, an organization that rescues 300,000 pounds of surplus produce a week to donate to hunger relief agencies. After that, I'm going to meet an award-winning local chef, who's got a passion for sustainability. Together we're going to surprise the Food Forward staff with a farmer's market meal, in an unforgettable Hollywood setting. While most of Food Forward's work is done out in the community, I'm first going to meet up with founder, Rick Nahmias, and Outreach Manager, Laura Jellum, to get started. - [Laura] So welcome to Food Forward. - Thank you. - Yes, welcome to the fruit cave, as we call it. The spark of it was actually seeing a lot of waste, and then seeing need, and wanting to connect the two. - I think Food Forward gives people a very simple way to tackle very complicated problems like hunger, food and security, food waste. - [Alejandro] Well, I would love to participate. - We'll put you to work. - Well, please, please do. One of the ways Food Forward collects is by harvesting fruit from trees in public parks, as well as the backyards of residents who are happy to donate. - So right now we are at a homeowner's house in Beverly Hills, this homeowner has agreed to donate their surplus kumquats, oranges, grapefruit. Everything we collect will immediately go to the food bank to be distributed to their clients. - [Rick] This is just stuff that is surplus, that's wasted. If you can equate that surplus with an amazing double win in fighting hunger and not rotting in a landfill and causing greenhouse gases-- - [Alejandro] We have the problem and we have the solution. - [Rick] Yeah. - [Alejandro] Right in front of us. - As someone who really cares about recovering produce and providing it to people who don't have access to fresh produce, Food Forward is an organization I really believe in. - We're harvesting food, fighting hunger, and building community. - We've picked probably about 120 pounds in just 20 minutes. - We couldn't do what we do without the community supporting us. The idea that we get these people who are so generous with their time, or their extra fruit makes it possible for us to do it. - These events wouldn't happen without volunteers. - [Alejandro] Aside from tree picking, the Santa Monica farmer's market is another way Food Forward collects surplus produce. - [Team Lead] So how many of you have volunteered before? Show of hands. - [Alejandro] Not here. - [Team Lead] Okay, so cool, they'll help you out. - [Volunteer] We have our farmer's market program where we organize groups of volunteers together. They go around at farmer's markets and approach the vendors there and see if they have any produce that they are willing to donate that day. - [Alejandro] Would you like a box today? - [Vendor] Yup. - I'll drop this off over here. Thank you. It feels good. - It does. - [Alejandro] Volunteering with Food Forward was an incredible experience. The work they do preventing food waste and helping the less fortunate is truly inspiring. And while I'm here in the farmer's market, I'm meeting with Chef Nyesha Arrington. She's crafted menus for popular restaurants, as well as dominated cooking competitions. But right now, she's gathering produce for tonight's surprise dinner. Hi, Chef Nyesha. - Hello. I have been cooking professionally for about 16 years. Super passionate about global cuisine. - This is all very exciting. I've never been here. - It's definitely like, my happy place. My style, I call it progressive Californian cuisine. It really sort of hits, on a lot of levels, through technique, through philosophy of food and cooking and culture. I really enjoy using Californian produce, and then inspiration from around the world. - What are you thinking for the menu? - To make plates very communal so people can interact, you know? I love to mix salty and sweet, and like, crunchy and soft, and really give these amazing experiences on the palate. - All the flowers taste amazing. I didn't know that you could eat these. I thought they were just pretty decorations. - It's going to be so excellent. - Oh my god. - I try to use zero waste as much as possible in my kitchens. That's really what it comes down to, really thinking forward and utilizing all parts of the product and respecting it. So you can use the celery leaf, you can use the actual celery root, and this, exactly, pretty cool huh? - [Alejandro] It's great to see people that are making sure that nothing goes to waste. - It's a beautiful thing. Seeing food come to life from a seed and then being able to take that product and add my creative spin on it, and presenting that to people, that's for me, the most organic form of love you can share. - [Alejandro] So Chef Nyesha and the Good Truck are starting dinner preparations at our destination in the Hollywood Hills, and I've just asked the Food Forward staff to meet me at their office because we have a big surprise for them. - Hi. - Welcome, welcome. - [Team Member] Classy. - Oh man, look at that. - [Team Member] That view. Wow, this is so cool. - Welcome everybody, come on down. Please watch your step. Let's check it out. Follow me, please. Let's go in the house now. Welcome please, make yourselves comfortable. How amazing is this view, huh? I was really mesmerized by how simple the concept of what you guys do, and I really do believe that you are the true superheroes and that what you do is very important and it's appreciated. This is Chef Nyesha and she created this beautiful menu for you guys tonight. - Thank you for having me. It's absolutely a pleasure. I'm going to take you on a journey through different spectrums of the globe, through the lens of the California farmer's market. - And now, enjoy. - [Chef Nyesha] Our yellowtail muchim. - Always really, really cared about food security and I feel like everyone really deserves the chance to eat healthy food. - Sugar snap peas with a brown butter vinaigrette and roasted almonds. - It was an incredible meal. - Tonight was magical. Everything was phenomenal. Sitting down and sharing a meal together in this beautiful setting was really special. - It was so amazing. It was great to be able to sit down, relax, and just get to know each other. - [Team Member] That was amazing. - Excellent. - I found myself getting seconds on beef, okay maybe thirds and fourth. - I loved it, one of the best meals I've ever had. I think it draws a community together. There's never a time when we're picking, that neighbors aren't stopping by and going, "hey, what's going on, what is this?" And they'll say, "could you come over and pick our fruit?" It's not only not going to waste, it's going to actually make a big difference in people's lives. - It's so nice having that intimate time to break bread and stop and actually think about what we do. - Chef, please, thank you so much. The whole purpose of The Good Truck is to give thanks to people that do so much for their community, and you guys are the perfect example. Please keep on doing what you're doing. Thank you. Wow, Food Forward really blew me away. And now the Good Truck is headed north. I'm so excited to see where we end up next.