A beloved chef takes on institutional food and sparks a revolution
Good food generally doesn't arrive on a tray: hospital food is famously ridiculed, chronic student hunger is deemed a rite of passage, and prison meals are considered part of the punishment. But Chef Joshna Maharaj knows that institutional kitchens have the ability to produce good, nourishing food, because she's been making it happen over the past 14 years. She's served meals to people who'd otherwise go hungry, baked fresh scones for maternity ward mothers, and dished out wholesome, scratch-made soups to stressed-out undergrads. She's determined to bring health, humanity, and hospitality back to institutional food while also building sustainability, supporting the local economy, and reinvigorating the work of frontline staff.
Take Back the Tray is part manifesto, part memoir from the trenches, and a blueprint for reclaiming control from corporations and brutal bottom lines. Maharaj reconnects food with health, wellness, education, and rehabilitation in a way that serves people, not just budgets, and proves change is possible with honest, sustained commitment on all levels, from government right down to the person sorting the trash. The need is clear, the time is now, and this revolution is delicious.
Joshna Maharaj is a chef, two-time TEDx speaker, and activist. She believes strongly in the power of chefs and social gastronomy to bring hospitality, sustainability, and social justice to the table. Joshna is a regular guest on CBC Radio, a passionate public speaker, and co-hosts The Hot Plate, a food and drink podcast. She was the recipient of Restaurants Canada's Culinary Excellence Award in 2018.