Organising the meal for a wedding is usually planned months in advance.

But for the team at Good Neighbour in the Bay of Plenty, who catered their first ever wedding using only food rescued from local supermarkets, the final menu was up in the air right until the morning of the wedding.

Despite this, the whole team could not be more pleased with how the wedding went.

Good Neighbour food co-ordinator Jackie Paine said Saturday's event was the first rescue food catered wedding she knew of in New Zealand.


A young Tauranga couple approached the team at Good Neighbour earlier in the year with the idea of having their dream day catered only using food that was rescued by the organisation.

"The couple are very aware of environmental and sustainability issues," Painee said.

But she said they were also very brave.

Because no one knew exactly what food would be rescued at Good Neighbour on any given day, the couple did not know exactly what they would be served up.

Paine said the couple knew how much food would be provided at the buffet and what meats were to be used, but other than that gave full trust to the catering team.

She said the meat was saved and frozen about three months prior to the wedding but other parts of the menu changed as new produce came in.

The morning of the wedding, crates of strawberries became available and were added to the line-up of desserts.

The wedding was held in Hamilton and the 130 guests were served up a range of dishes including salads, carved ham, a braised beef and black bean dish, apricot chicken and Moroccan lamb.

A huge grazing platter and a range of desserts were also created by the Good Neighbour team. The wedding cake was made by the mother of the bride and was decorated by Paine.

The grazing platter made out of rescued food for the wedding. Photo/ Supplied
The grazing platter made out of rescued food for the wedding. Photo/ Supplied

The catering team were no strangers to events as they had been creating corporate platters for local businesses all year and had helped at other local events.

Good Neighbour is building a commercial kitchen in its Burrow St premises to help with addressing social issues like food waste, hunger and unemployment.

One of the goals on the list was to create a social enterprise where products could be created and sold out of the kitchen.

Paine said the success of the wedding was "really exciting" and was a good indication of what was possible for the organisation.

Local chef James Broad had been working with the organisation for a number of months and helped make the wedding a "raging success".

Preparation of the menu was done entirely by volunteers and a core team of six people travelled to Hamilton on the day.

Broad, who had catered hundreds of weddings during his career as a chef, said being a part of someone's wedding was always special.

"It's a real privilege to be able to cook on the biggest day of someone's life," he said.

But he said watching the "love and excitement" pouring out of everyone who helped at the wedding on Saturday was even more special.

"What this has done is open up the carcass of potential," Broad said.

He said the new commercial kitchen, which was set to be complete in February next year, would take recovering food even further by creating a space for more people to learn new skills.

Good Neighbour's food impact director John Paine agreed the wedding was a huge success.

He said the organisation was looking forward to opening its commercial kitchen where people in the community would be mentored into further employment or further education.

"We will be walking alongside people while teaching them the soft skills they need to succeed."