I am writing this series of #lesswaste posts because we here at Smoke & Salt believe our business can not only be a driver for change but also because we'd like to help the current upward trend for wastage awareness. #lesswaste promotes the idea that there needs to be innovation and change in the global food supply chain from multinational franchises right down to the greasy spoon caff down the road.
Much has been made in recent times of supermarkets and large food producing/processing outlets when it comes to food waste. 'Skippers' and 'Skip-divers' were really the product of initial research into how much food is actually wasted - those individuals who we can definitely call 'early-adopters', i.e. they had the passion and drive to utilize this information before anything could be done 'above board' and bureaucratically.
I will agree this is indeed a vast and problematic situation that the current global food chain finds itself with - to feed a growing world population (especially, if not mainly, in the west) a diet with ever increasing protein, consistently perfect vegetables and fruit, and fully processed shelf-stable grains (and ever increasingly specialist, sometimes gluten-free, sometimes 'superfood' grains [think your Chia seeds and Quinoas]). The problem has been highlighted many times by many experts and charities and there are vast resources detailing the dilemma 99.9% of us face (unless you are a self-sustaining hermit - quite rare in the limited wild we have left, I assure you), I will provide some extra resources at the bottom should you feel inclined to know more.
Okay, that is the righteous part out of the way. We all know it is an underlying problem and we all know there is not a single simple solution but I want to use #lesswaste to highlight some of the small pinpoints of light that are managing to break through an otherwise bleak landscape. There are many not only in our industry but in industries that have no common connection food who are still passionate about food production and wastage and if we can help raise awareness for what is going on both in London and abroad, hopefully we can support these small sparks to enable them to burn bright and gain the attention they deserve.
I want to highlight a few restaurants and key industry figures for hospitality that I believe are truly driving this improvement in terms of culture in a kitchen but also in terms of the general public's awareness to reduce waste.
1. Dan Barber - Dan Barber has been ever vocal in the previous decade of a wholesome and sustainable approach to not only his restaurant ventures (the world renowned Blue Hill restaurants) but also for produce and food production in general. He has come from the approach of a chef in search of better and better flavour and it has led him on a route that I suspect even he did not see himself venturing down. Chef Barber's pursuit of flavour has led him to engage and study each aspect of food production and his writings and TED talks allow an accessible glimpse into his findings (The Third Plate is Dan Barber's first book recording a decade's worth of stories and information about agricultural policies and farming methods as observed by him - a truly interesting read for anyone interested in sustainability, not just for chefs.)
2. Silo Restaurant, Brighton - A Restaurant concept created by Joost Bakker, a Dutch-born artist and environmentalist and Douglas McMaster, a British chef. Douglas explains his restaurant concept as a 'pre-Industrial food system'. His restaurant, soon to have been open for a full year is going from strength to strength and is as much about creating zero-waste as it is about hearkening back to the age where people respected food for it's true value, utilizing whole animals and vegetables and maintaining a close relationship with a food's source.
3. Poco Restaurant, London - Poco is restaurant that recently opened in London's Broadway Market. The original in Bristol has been a great success and he driver behind both restaurants is Tom Hunt. Tom describes himself as a Eco chef and food waste activist, and he promotes a sustainable approach to food and cooking through not only his two restaurants but also with his Forgotten Feast supperclub utilizing food waste, forgotten flavours and foraged wild foods.
If you are up for some more reading on the subject of waste have a look at this article from i-D magazine. There will be much more to come on this series including more from Dan Barber (especially his book, The Third Plate, shown above), Michael Pollan and more. A.