Could we start serving ugly veg and broken rice? This London popup by New York restaurateur Dan Barber inspired chefs from Shoreditch House, High Road House and Pizza East
Maybe it was the chance to eat carrot tops and ibérico ham drippings; maybe it was the draw of Dan Barber, Blue Hill restaurants founder, Chef’s Table star and Obama nutrition adviser; or maybe they just care about the planet. But when our London chefs heard that kitchen waste was going to be on the menu at Selfridges’ new pop-up restaurant, they were queuing up.
The pop-up, wastED, was there to call attention to the global food waste movement, working with suppliers and retailers to use by-products at every link in the food chain. Barber first tried the idea in New York a few years ago, with his Greenwich Village diners eating 600lb of “ugly” vegetables, 475lb of skate cartilage and 350lb of vegetable pulp prepared by guest chefs including April Bloomfield, Grant Achatz and Dominique Ansel.
For the 2017 version, Tesco donated spiralized vegetable cores to be pickled, blanched or roasted, then dressed in salad cream made with aquafaba – aka the liquid drained from a can of chickpeas – and charred cucumber skin oil. Food writers raved about a “blood and bran” burrito made of scraps from the store’s salt beef counter and a cod’s head and broken rice kedgeree served in a tiny cocotte.
Gordon Ramsay, Alain Ducasse, Sat Bains and Fergus Henderson all made guest appearances, and the kitchen team personally delivered each course, explaining where the ideas and ingredients for each dish came from.
“It was an amazing experience that really made us think about the food we waste in our kitchens and how we can use it in our everyday menus to make fantastic dishes,” says Cookhouse and House Tonic manager Jack Davis, who took chefs from Shoreditch House, High Road House and Pizza East to see what all the fuss was about.
They tried broccoli stems with whey béchamel and dry-aged beef end crumb; “waste rarebit” cooked with stale ale bread, cheese trimmings and off-grade apple chutney; and a lamb tail lasagna made with pasta trim and Parmesan rinds. “The chefs all said they will be looking to see what they can use from waste from now on,” says Jack.
So is bin diving really the new way to source restaurant produce? Certainly the dry-aged beef crumb was such a hit that Andy Nolan asked for the recipe, hoping to use it on the Shoreditch House menu at some point. Our main suppliers shouldn’t be worried, but with an estimated 18 million tonnes of food wasted in the UK each year, being more conscious of what we use and how is a great start.
See more at wastedlondon.com
Taste the waste: three brands that put are putting byproducts to good use
Imperfect Produce supply “ugly” vegetable boxes throughout LA and the Bay Area at a 30 to 50 per cent discount. imperfectproduce.com
Rubies in the Rubble make jams, relishes and pickles out of surplus produce from UK farmers. rubiesintherubble.com
Toast Ale is brewed with surplus bread that would otherwise be wasted. Profits go to the food waste charity Feedback. toastale.com