Eco Chef and co-founder of Poco, the Food Made Good Restaurant of the Year 2016, Tom Hunt, has just embarked on a month long waste purge. Here’s a chef who doesn’t just talk the talk. If you run a restaurant which makes a virtue of only importing one fresh product – lemons – and once they’ve been squeezed and zested dry, transforms them into limoncello, then watching what goes in your bin at home should come naturally.
Well, for the next 30 days Tom’s going all out to ensure his bin remains pristine and empty. As a master of the art of root to fruit cooking, he’s got a head start on the rest of us in terms of basic knowledge of how to use up beetroot stalks. But Tom is determined to go further and importantly is sharing his mission on social media – keen to share tips as well as tribulations.
“I think it’s a natural progression really from root to fruit cooking. How can I reduce waste at home and reduce packaging? I’ve got to find ways of using products that don’t have packaging and I’ve purposely chosen Christmas for this experiment so I’ll have to be extra strict with myself.
“When I go to a supermarket which I rarely do, I am shocked by the amount of packaging. So I’ll be sticking to markets and speciality shops. The volume of packaging really is insane and I am determined to boycott it.”
Tom’s applying this strict regime beyond food. His tube of toothpaste is down to the last squeeze. Foregoing the easy option of a quick pop to the chemists, Tom’s heading to LUSH where you can buy powder in a returnable tub.
Lessons learned during the month’s mission will be transferred to the restaurants which already are leaders in the no waste field. Cellophane is banned at Poco. Instead, food is neatly packaged up in Tupperware containers and suppliers are asked to deliver unwrapped – particularly items like lettuce and cucumber. Carrot tops are the latest ‘waste’ item to find a tasty use on customers plates at the Broadway Market restaurant.
For dinner at home Tom acknowledges that he has to put aside a bit of extra time. A trip to an east London mill for the flour that he’ll mix with the loose, market bought eggs and cavalo nero for a tasty pasta dish. For oil and wine he’ll make the trip to a shop dispensing from a barrel and for his daily pint – of milk – Tom’s going to visit Hook & Son’s market stall where he can fill his own bottle.
But what of Christmas itself – the packaging-phobe’s nightmare time of year?
Tom’s got those plans down. Presents will be wrapped in muslin or some nice cloth that be put to good use after the gift has been opened. And as for the food, well his contribution to the family feast is oysters – which rather handily come in their own natural packaging.
“My key message is to reconnect with nature through food and building our communities through food and that’s what this will encourage. I’m not convinced 100% zero waste is possible but I’m going to give it a go. It can be more time consuming to care about food and the environment but it’s really exciting and I’m convinced it will help to improve those connections.”
You can follow Tom’s journey @TomsFeast and look out for #EatWellWasteNothing.