Throughout October we've been focused on the issue of food waste, from how we got here and the scale of the problem to tasty leftover recipes and top tips on how we can all reduce food waste every day.
This week, we wanted to shine a light on just a few of the amazing organisations, movements and individuals who are going out of their way to reduce waste and celebrate the country's most delicious food. There are Michelin-starred chefs, crusaders in the fight against food poverty and zero waste obsessives, all trying to force us out of some of our most pernicious habits. The three projects below offer just a brief introduction to some of our current favourites, but if you'd like to find out more or how you can get involved, follow the links, or head to Love Food Hate Waste - it's a pretty good place to start.
Dan Barber is a Michelin-starred American chef and food expert, the owner of the Blue Hill restaurants in New York. His work, particularly at Blue Hill at Stone Barns (a restauarant set in the farmland of upstate New York, sourcing solely from their own farm and others within a tiny radius), has brought him a formidable reputation for innovation and a focus on the progress of sustainable, hyper-local food, looking to ensure everyone begins to consider the impact of their everyday food choices. It shouldn't surprise you then, that one of his many side projects is a (now series of-) pop-up restaurant dedicated to highlighting the food waste epidemic.
Following an incredibly influential March 2015 run at his Blue Hill restaurant in NYC, in February 2017 Dan’s wastED project came to London. For 6 weeks, a community of chefs, farmers and distributors worked together to try and make the most of any ‘waste’ that occurs along the food chain in order to create a restaurant on the rooftop of the department store, Selfridges, itself famous for celebrating the best of British food.
At the heart of the wastED project is a desire to show that food ‘waste’ is not necessarily waste at all. What might be typically seen as a ‘by-product’ can actually become the star of the plate. So, whether it was leftovers from the kitchens of Selfridges itself or the thrown out vegetables cores from a supermarket down the road, Dan and a whole host of guest chefs turned ‘rubbish’ into Michelin-standard food. Guests at the fully-booked pop-up found themselves eating an incredible selection of delicious 'waste' dishes and most, importantly, being able to have an insightful discussion about food waste in the process.
WastED and the whole team involved remain an inspiration to us. The goal of celebrating our ability to create something delicious out of ignored and un-coveted produce certainly motivates us to up our leftover recipe game!
Want to know more? Head to www.wastedlondon.com
The Felix Project
From Michelin-starred cuisine, to something a little closer to home.
7 million tonnes of food waste generated by UK households.
8.4 million families struggling to put food on the table.
Looking to tackle both sides of the shocking food waste equation in the UK, The Felix Project is a charity that works with food suppliers and other charitable organisations with a dual-aim:
What began as a mission inspired by the memory of young Felix Byam Shaw has become a leading light in the struggle against food waste in the capital. The volunteer-run organisation works with supermarkets and wholesalers, amongst other food suppliers, acting as a 're-distributer' - delivering produce bound for disposal to a range of organisations providing food for those in need. When a supplier advises that they have surplus food, a Felix project volunteer will head to collect the produce, check the quality, and then deliver direct to those who need it most. This close working relationship enables the team to reduce waste, all while providing those in need, from the elderly, homeless and children to those with mental health issues, refugees & asylum seekers, with nutritious and healthy meals they may otherwise miss out on.
This year, they have gone a step further, partnering with (Head Chef of the World's Best Restaurant!) Massimo Bottura's Food for Soul project, itself dedicated to fighting food waste in support of social inclusion and individual well-being, to create Refettorio Felix. This community kitchen serves lunch to vulnerable members of the local area of West London, using food destined to be waste, cooked by a rotating selection of the country's most celebrated chefs, from Sat Bains to Monica Galetti, James Lowe to Jason Atherton, Clare Smyth to Douglas McMaster (more on him below!)
Delivering over £8 of fresh food for every £1 donated, The Felix Project’s incredible work ensures less tasty food is thrown away, and that the poorest in society are able to enjoy it.
You can find out more and become a volunteer (like me!) at www.thefelixproject.org
Douglas McMaster - Chef and owner of Silo
Knowing even just a little bit about him, it's not hard to see why you'll find Douglas McMaster's name on the list of chefs involved in Refettorio Felix. The man himself describes his work succinctly enough on his Twitter profile – ‘I cook waste’.
The owner of Silo wants to create the world's most ethical restaurant, aiming to be truly Zero Waste. With a rule that at least 99% of what they buy is consumed by their customers, composted in their in-venue compost machine (which goes by the name Bertha) or re-used in another way, they're leading the way.
Silo is at once a Restauarant, Bakery, Brewery and Coffee House. This integrated use of space is key to constantly reducing the amount of waste they produce. Focusing on ethically sourced produce as well as ingredients made and grown in-house including bread and self-brewed drinks made from whole ingredients, means Silo can offer a high-quality exciting and innovative menu while producing an amazingly small amount of waste.
This singular drive to reduce the impact his project has meant Douglas has attracted a fair amount of attention from similarly passionate individuals (admittedly not always positive, some recent articles suggesting he had ruffled the feathers of a number of Brighton's residents). His latest project is a collaboration between himself and master-Mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana (known as Mr Lyan - most famous for his boundary pushing first venture, White Lyan, that proudly proclaimed to be the first bar in the world to have no perishables at all) named Cub. Recently opened in London's Hoxton, Cub combines the duo's passion sustainability in food and drink to create a place where unloved ingredients come to the fore and you leave both nourished and educated.
Sounds pretty excellent to us. If, like Marketing man Matt, you've been to Silo or Cub, get in touch - we'd love to know what you think!