Cooking at Dan Barber’s WastED Restaurant

Tom Hunt, Dan Barber, WastED Selfridges, London

As I’m sure you are aware we currently waste more than a third of all food we produce. Much of this food is saveable and wasted unnecessarily – not just at every level of the food chain but in our own homes. Dan Barber is a chef from upstate New York – who owns two restaurants called Blue Hill named after his families farm. It would be fair to say Dan is at the forefront of the sustainable food movement. Recently he has made it his mission to fight food waste and created a nomadic pop up called WastED. His pop-up WastED focuses on using food that would otherwise be wasted, utilising bi-products from the food industry and making them into delicious thought provoking food.

I had the privilege of spending an evening cooking at the restaurant and contributed a dish to the menu as the guest chef. My dish was inspired by one of Dan’s iconic dishes called Rotation Risotto, which he serves in his restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  In order to keep soil healthy and alive, farmers must grow a variety of crops in rotation that help restore nitrogen, proteins and nutrients back into the soil.

I made a rotation risotto with an English twist, porridge, made using rye and spelt from Gilchester’s Organics trial fields, topped with clover – a cover-crop grown to replace proteins in the soil, enabling the growth in rotation of more spelt and rye in an organic and regenerative farming system. Clover isn’t usually eaten but is perfectly edible and interesting to taste. The porridge was flavoured with mushrooms grown on used coffee grounds and celeriac cooked from Root to Fruit – using the roots, skin, flesh, stems and leaves which were dried into crispy chips. The porridge was decorated with sprouted rye, puffed spelt and foraged greens, including the clover from the farm. To finish the porridge I served a mushroom tea made using wild mushroom seconds from the wholesaler Mash and truffle honey, flavoured with the nubs of white truffle. You can find a home-cook version of the recipe here on the Guardian website.

Conventional food production is one of the main contributors to climate change. Food waste is unnecessarily adding to these issues. Fortunately the solution is a positive and tasty one: we have the power to reduce our individual impact on the environment and to contribute considerably towards regenerating the environment through buying local, seasonal produce grown within environmentally sound farming systems. And by reducing the food we waste at home we can also make this affordable.

Here is a visual blog of photos taken on the evening by Miles Willis.

Tom Hunt, Dan Barber, WastED Selfridges, London

Pre-service calm, prepping the tea or mushroom kombu dashi for my dish. Made with wild mushroom seconds, all the coarsest trimmings from the vegetables used in the porridge and honey flavoured with white truffle nubs.

Tom Hunt, Dan Barber, WastED Selfridges, London

Setting up the teapots for the mushroom and truffle honey tea.

Tom Hunt, Dan Barber, WastED Selfridges, London

Kitchen briefing

Tom Hunt, Dan Barber, WastED Selfridges, London

Tasting

Tom Hunt, Dan Barber, WastED Selfridges, London

Plate test

Tom Hunt, Dan Barber, WastED Selfridges, London

Taste test. Yum.

Tom Hunt, Dan Barber, WastED Selfridges, London

Demonstrating my dish to the WastED team.

Tom Hunt, Dan Barber, WastED Selfridges, London

Tom Hunt, Dan Barber, WastED Selfridges, London

Tom Hunt, Dan Barber, WastED Selfridges, London

Describing the Root to Fruit ethos behind my dish and the inspiration Dan Barber has given me.

Tom Hunt, Dan Barber, WastED Selfridges, London

Trial-crop rye and spelt porridge with white truffle and honey tea.

Buy The Natural Cook Now!

THE NATURAL COOK

For more of my world inspired seasonal recipes buy my book here.

SUBSCRIBE

Local, Seasonal, Organic...

Sign up now and recieve a free recipe from the book!

Causes we love & support...

Slow Food Chef Alliance Fairshare Fish Fight Friends of the Earth The Sustainable Restaurant Assosiation Action Against Hunger