Home NEWS Zero-waste on the menu as chefs turn to leftovers

Zero-waste on the menu as chefs turn to leftovers

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Native restaurant made tacos out of fish scraps and served them on old menus
Native restaurant made tacos out of fish scraps and served them on old menus

Credit:
Native

The zero-waste movement has seen chefs trained into how to turn leftovers into meals as customers become more aware of food waste.

Businesses are also hiring specialised staff such as butchers to make sure all the meat is used, and holding zero-waste training days for chefs.

Some chefs have engineered whole menus around the week’s offcuts and waste, serving up discounted meals to eco-conscious diners.

Native Restaurant, in Borough , South London, serves up a three-course meal for £20 at the weekend, with all ingredients made from leftovers from the week.

They make soups out of venison neck and snacks out of pigeon hearts, as well as using fish off-cuts to make tacos. For vegetarians, they turn leftover vegetables into a fried tempura snack.

Head chef, Ivan Tisdall-Downes told The Telegraph: “Every part of an animal or vegetable has its own character, so we try put a spotlight on those overlooked and sometimes unexpected ingredients with our Wasting Snacks menu at Native, using fish skin, day old bread, and trim from our vegetables.

“As well as that, as a restaurateur, it’s hard to ignore the fact that every bit of food waste is also money you’re throwing in the bin, and that’s something that people can take back home with them, when they eat at Native and try to recreate in their own kitchens.”

Douglas Mcmaster has opened his zero-waste restaurant in Hackney

Kate Nicholls, the Chief Executive of UK Hospitality, which represents all British restaurants, said that this type of cooking is a growing trend.

She explained: “Tackling food waste is certainly a major concern for restaurants and it is increasingly an issue that customers are passionate about. Businesses are already acting to cut waste through numerous methods. These include nose to tail cooking, using as much of the animal as possible, recycling coffee grounds and oil as well as making stocks. Restaurants are also investing in staff training to measure and reduce waste daily.”

A new report by the group found that waste reduction is the most important issue according to a survey of its members, and sustainability generally was considered “critically important” by 70 per cent of businesses surveyed. 30 per cent of consumers surveyed said that environmentally friendly operators would be their top choice.

The trend for keeping the food bin empty is now so popular that London has become home to the first ever zero-waste restaurant, Silo in Hackney.

“As well as that, as a restaurateur, it’s hard to ignore the fact that every bit of food waste is also money you’re throwing in the bin, and that’s something that people can take back home with them, when they eat at Native and try to recreate in their own kitchens.”

Native uses the bones of its meat – making bone marrow caramel for pudding

It also takes produce from farms which would otherwise be thrown away, including wonky vegetables, to make dishes people want to buy.

Chef Meedu Saad at Thai restaurant Kiln in Soho makes sure all leftovers from meat brought in are put back into his curries. Skewers are also a popular way to use tiny bits of meat that would otherwise be thrown away.

He said: “For our Lamb  & Cumin Skewers we use every part of the animal, including the fat which would usually go to waste, layering it between the pieces of meat.

“We also keep the tops of the turnips and any offcuts and ferment them, before using them in other dishes like our Northern Style Curry of Rabbit & Herbs”.

Going one step further, Thai restaurant Smoking Goat in Shoreditch, London has hired an in-house butcher to make sure all the cuts of meat are used.

The Guinea Grill makes pies out of meat off-cuts

 Head chef Ben Curtis said: “We cook our Lardo Fried Rice using cured belly and back fat that would otherwise go to waste, this allows us to use every part of the Tamworth pig we get from Fred Price in Somerset. We have an in house butcher, Roberto, who breaks these down and makes it possible for us to use it in as many dishes as possible.

“Stir Fried Pork Skin, Garlic & Chilli is a new dish that I have put on our menu, using the skin of the pig that would usually go to waste. We braise the skin and then cook it with a fragrant paste to make the dish.”

Even London’s oldest institutions are making customers aware of their zero-waste attitude. The Guinea Grill in Mayfair, a favourite haunt of traders, journalists and politicians, serves up a steak and kidney pie made of off-cuts.

Nathan Richardson, the head chef, said:  “We use the dry aged beef trim to make the gravy and stock for the pie. Any larger trimmings are used in the pie mix. We use the excess fat to cook tomatoes and serve as a garnish.

“Also the peelings from the mushrooms goes into the gravy or dehydrated to use in risotto.”

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