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The Sydney restaurants changing the world for the better

Generosity is on the menu across Sydney

Social enterprises and not-for-profit endeavours are taking root in the city, and we’ve put together a list of the most enticing ventures. From providing employment training to refugees and asylum seekers, to creating sustainable income for widows in Sri Lanka, these change makers are giving back.

Gratia

This Surry Hills café is at the forefront of the new wave of socially conscious eating in Sydney. The brainchild of philanthropist Matthew Byrne, who co-founded the Pure FoundationGratia’s bottom line is to give back. And that it does, with 50 percent of profits going to the Pure Foundation - which supports charities around the world, and the other half to a charity of your choice. The pursuit of excellence also extends to the menu; co head chefs Jo Ward and Michelle Powell (who also run the kitchen at Folonomo next door, Gratia’s night-time offering) are putting out dishes that are both nourishing and delicious.

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Surry Hills

Folonomo

Folonomo is a profit for purpose restaurant. Its moniker is short for ‘For Love Not Money’, and, like its sister café Gratia, 100% of profits flow back to not-for-profit organisations. The food is next level (creamy, nutty sunflower seed risotto anyone?) and, best of all; your cash is generating change.

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Surry Hills

Indu

Indu pays homage to owner Dr Sam Prince’s Indian and Sri Lankan heritage, serving up dishes from the subcontinent that locals would offer in their own homes. The idea for the restaurant came to Dr Prince after he did aid work in remote villages in the region. “The patients couldn’t pay us, so instead they would actually take us to their homes, they would make us these feasts, often from the produce in their village, from recipes that were handed down from generation to generation.” In honour of them, Indu gives back through the Village to Village program, partnering with the grassroots organisation Palmera to fund employment and educational schemes in Sri Lanka. Dr Prince is also the man behind the Zambrero Mexican restaurants, which run the ‘Plate for Plate’ scheme – for every burrito sold, a meal is donated to someone in need around the world. Not one to rest on his laurels, he founded One Disease, a charitable organisation working towards the elimination of disease in remote Indigenous communities.

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Sydney
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Parliament on King

They say that generosity starts at home, and that’s certainly the case for Ravi Prasad and his wife, who opened up their living room to create a 16-seat café that provides hospitality training to asylum seekers and refugees. “We wanted to do something practical to help and at the same time bring these new Australians into the community,” says Prasad. With a background in advertising you could excuse Prasad for being cynical, but he says the response to Parliament on King has re-set his optimism. “I think that people really, genuinely, want to do good, and are good,” he says. The cafe also hosts ‘local family’ dinners, where refugees are given the chance to showcase dishes from their home countries for the local community, and earn some money in the process. Even Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield are fans. It may be small in stature, but this joint is big in heart.

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Erskineville

Two Good Co

Order your Two Good Co lunch the Friday before and your food will be delivered the following Tuesday. There’s a minimum order of 10, so these guys are perfect for the office. With some of Sydney’s top chefs (Kylie KwongNeil PerryMatt Moran and Mitch Orr, among them) coming up with the recipes, you’re not only giving a helping hand, but nabbing yourself a pretty epic lunch as well.

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By: Tamar Cranswick

Mazi Mas

This pop-up dinner project gives migrant, refugee and asylum seeker women the chance to gain practical experience in the hospitality industry. Maggie Lloyd, Director of Mazi Mas Sydney, first heard about the dinners while in London in 2010 and brought the idea back home. “Mazi struck me as something that was universal in one sense, a way to recognise and reward the work women do behind the scenes all over the world, but also something we needed in Sydney.” The dinners are a celebration of the women’s cultural and culinary backgrounds, and money from ticket and alcohol sales – Diageo are event partners – is used to pay participant’s wages. “They are incredibly skilled, hard-working and generous people who have a lot more to contribute to our community,” says Lloyd.

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By: Tamar Cranswick
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The Bread and Butter Project

The Bread and Butter Project is an initiative of Bourke Street Bakery demigods Paul Allam and David McGuinness. The social enterprise business offers 12-month TAFE-accredited traineeships in baking for refugees and asylum seekers, with an eye towards long-term employment prospects. You can get your hands on the bread every Saturday at Carriageworks Farmers Markets, as well as at other food stores around Sydney, and all profits from sales go back into the project. Anyone who’s ever stood in line at Bourke Street Bakery (that’d be all of us then) knows these guys make seriously good bread. All rise for the next generation.

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By: Tamar Cranswick

The Welcome Dinner Project

The Welcome Dinner Project initiative opens up doors, literally and figuratively, by pairing newly arrived Australians with established Aussies for collaborative dinners held in homes across Sydney. Equal numbers of established and newly arrived Australians are invited, and each guest brings a dish that’s culturally meaningful to him or her. You can nominate to host a dinner, or just come along as a guest. Either way, the idea is to form new connections and learn to appreciate the richly cultural melting pot that Australia really is.

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By: Tamar Cranswick

The Two Wolves Community Cantina

This not-for-profit, student-friendly cantina near Broadway is staffed by volunteers, and all profits go to the Cardoner Project, a Jesuit endeavour that sponsors youths to volunteer in developing nations. The menu is a reflection of the countries where the Cardoner Project operates – from Mexican burritos to Vietnamese noodle salad. Eventually, Two Wolves hopes to extend training opportunities to young offenders and the long-term unemployed.

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Glebe
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Still hungry?

The best breakfasts in Sydney

Aussie breakfasts are legendary the world over, and we damn well know how to do them right here in Sydney. From the best cheese toastie around to that liquorice bread, here's our list of where to go and what to order at the best cafés in Sydney.

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By: Time Out editors