Waste has been on most chef’s minds over the last few years and now it is bigger than ever. It’s fab, because now chefs and suppliers are being more inventive. And it’s great to be ahead of the game. BM has run a Waste-Ed course every year since 2015. Our Waste-Ed recipe training book is about to go though its third . It started with simple recipes like tomato jam made from the unused bits from the deli and salad bars. I put my burnt apple puree with everything, from a filling in a doughnut to pork belly. It is one of the simplest recipes, it’s made from bruised or unused apples from meeting rooms. We cooked them at 200ºC until they burn and then put them in a food processor until pureed. Believe me it tastes like apple toffee! We have since moved on to fermenting pickles and making bread from porridge. We’ve come a long way from finding a use for a comic shaped vegetable!
When Dan Barber (chef-owner of Blue Hill in New York) held his WastED pop-up in 2017 at Selfridges some of our lucky chefs had the opportunity to eat there. He is one of the true pioneers in this field. His book The Third Plate is a real eye opener and a great read. Or if you are like me, just listen to it on Amazon audio books. His book, released in 2014 had taken years to write before that, so Dan has been doing this for a long time. He is definitely not one of the chefs that has come out of the woodwork saying ‘in’ words because that’s what everyone wants to hear!
Every year chefs are coming up with great ideas to reduce waste. Douglas McMaster’s Silo restaurant in Hackney Wick is the first zero waste restaurant in the UK. I don’t know how he does it, but his methods will filter out to the rest of us in time. That’s what is great about chefs, they love to show off and share, and this benefits everyone.
But it’s wrong to single out just two chefs. It seems everyone is now heading in the right direction.
Moving in the right direction
The pandemic has given everyone a chance to reset and move forward. It’s good to take some positives from those dreadful couple of years. We are all better at making banana bread and sourdough now! I have shared my waste-Ed recipe for banana peel chutney. This is all about using everything you can and reducing waste.
Supermarkets are slowly changing their mindset as well. They have much less packaging and sell more loose fresh produce, we don’t have to buy more than we need. Combine this with weekly menu planning will help to avoid waste at home. It’s how we don’t plan the Friday menu at BM. We rely on a ‘scratch’ or ‘chef’s larder’ offer. At home we always leave one night free in case of a change of plans. We never know when a bad day or late shift will lead to an emergency takeaway!