Ken Spain.

Sydney-based social enterprise Two Good Co has always used food to support and empower women experiencing domestic violence, homelessness and trauma. After opening Two Good Café in Darlinghurst’s Yirranma Place last year, the team launched the Chef of the Month program, which sees renowned culinary figures develop menus that are cooked and served at the venue.

Solotel’s Matt Moran, Three Blue Ducks’ Darren Robertson, Cook and Author Belinda Jeffery and Lucky Kwong’s Kylie Kwong are just some of the people who have participated in the initiative, and there’s more to come. Hospitality speaks to Two Good Co’s Jo Rosenberg and Chef Martin Benn about how chefs can join the program and contribute to a very good cause.

Two Good Co has long collaborated with outside chefs for various events, with the partnerships going on to inspire the team to implement something a little more permanent: Chef of the Month. “We’ve always loved working with top chefs,” says Good Food Business Operations Manager Jo Rosenberg.

Before the official launch of the program, Two Good Co teamed up with chefs to create lunch jars that were sold at the café, with Chef of the Month a natural evolution of the offering. It’s a joint effort for everyone involved from the chefs to Two Good Co’s staff, who are able to work together to deliver a high-quality culinary experience. The program ultimately hopes to reshape public preconceptions around social enterprises and the quality of their offerings. “It’s important to us to move away from the thought that charities or social enterprises don’t provide a premium service or product,” says Rosenberg.

So how does it work? Two Good Co’s team reach out to chefs to participate during a particular time of the year and ask them to provide recipes for a sandwich or a toastie, a salad and a sweet option. “We ask them to work with the seasons and use ingredients that are readily available,” says Rosenberg. “They need to be reasonably simple to prepare, remembering that our kitchens are training kitchens for women with comparatively limited experience with food.”

Group Chef Jen Shaw then works with contributing chefs to mould the recipes into an offering that works at the café, which can also be utilised by Two Good Co’s catering service. Testing of the recipes takes place before the menu is photographed and goes live. While chefs aren’t required to cook their dishes on-site, they are always welcome at the café. “We love it when chefs come in to meet with us and interact with the customers at Yirranma Place,” says Rosenberg.

Martin Benn was Two Good Co’s November Chef of the Month last year, with the former Sepia and Society talent designing his menu around dishes that weren’t your “everyday go-to café” food. Benn opted for a potato and cheddar tart, white bean and sesame hummus Greek-style salad and meringues with yuzu curd and raspberry sherbet. The chef believes the program is an important cause for those in need and the wider hospitality industry. “Food is what brings people together; the gift of sharing food and memories, life and laughter…” he says. “Initiatives like Two Good Co are so important because food has always been there from the dawn of time. Food creates a human connection that nourishes, nurtures and heals.”

Martin Benn.

For Two Good Co, the program is a valuable boost for brand awareness as well as a source of inspiration for those it’s helping. “We want to inspire the women to be part of something really special; it’s something to be proud of,” says Rosenberg. “It’s why we use high-quality ingredients in our meals, why we choose ethical products and why we collaborate with Australia’s best chefs, designers and artists.”

Rosenberg and the team are excited to reveal the next Chef of the Month, describing them as a “rockstar in the industry”. Alongside the evolution of the program, Two Good Co will continue to contribute to the community with the launch of its third cookbook this year as well as through hosting events with renowned chefs, who Rosenberg says add an “extra touch of magic to everything we do.”