This is my first blog and until now I have not felt the need to write about my experiences in cooking.
I’ve been cooking passionately for 12 years. My priorities have laid quite rightly in the taste and quality of the food that I create. Over this time I have been some what of an extremist, dedicating blocks of time to different culinary disciplines. From sourdough bread making; spending months caring for various bubbling cultures and hand kneading various doughs to perhaps the opposite end of the scale; living as a frutarian, eating nothing but whole fruits and noticing and recording the reactions of my taste buds, surprised by my sustained energy levels as I surfed 3-4 hours a day. One month ago something happened that turned my views about food on their head.
In September Gill from River Cottage HQ gave me a call saying that he had been asked to cook at the Thames Festival using sustainable fish species that had been promoted through ‘Hugh’s Fish Fight‘ but that he didn’t have the time and so was I interested. I jumped at the idea and was therefore introduced to ‘Taste of Freedom’ a charity that was described to me as creating awareness of and using ‘food that would otherwise be wasted’.
I first spoke to Eloise Day, campaigner from Taste of Freedom, quite appropriately as I was grilling fresh mackerel at The Secret Garden Party in Huntingdon. She happily told me that she was planning a pop up restaurant called Feast on the Bridge in the open air on Southwark bridge in the centre of London using food that was unnecessarily destined for landfill. Amazed by the idea of this feat I agreed to help them design a menu using waste food and organise the kitchen immediately.
There was an instant shift in my awareness. Now focused on this new project, everywhere i looked was waste food. In my own festival cafe where we have always recycled and composted all our waste, I started noticing unnecessary things being wasted. As we were preparing vegetables we would chop whole ends off to remove a little stalk, for instance wasting perhaps a 10th of a chilli but over a summer we might prepare 60kg of chilli wasting 6kg of good food for no reason. Now we simply pull the green stalk wasting nothing.
Through working with Taste of Freedom I am now aware of the massive extent that food is being wasted unnecessarily. We’re not talking about food that’s out of date and spoilt, but perfectly fine food that is thrown in the bin for no reason other than problems with mass food production and legislation that prevent good food being saved.