With people in the UK throwing away a staggering £13bn worth of food every year, the need to tackle the issue of food waste is all too real. Luckily, chefs and producers all around the country have stepped up to the plate and are actively doing something about it; last year I was lucky enough to get a reservation at Dan Barber’s WastED pop-up at Selfridges in London – a supperclub event where the renowned chef served up a hugely innovative menu made from produce that’s usually binned by the food industry. And now, here in Cardiff, we have a similar movement, in the form of the #WasteLess Cardiff suppers organised by Lia’s Kitchen & Green City Events.
What exactly is a #WasteLess supper?
At the Cardiff #WasteLess suppers, ‘waste’ produce is collected from supermarkets and local businesses over the course of a couple of weeks (depending on the ingredients that can last that long). These ingredients are then handed over to a collection of keen Cardiff chefs, who use what they’re given to create a tantalising feast for paying guests. This can be a very tricky job, since they can never be sure what produce they’ll end up with – this was especially evident the week that I attended thanks to the snow and disruption brought on by the ‘beast from the east’ – meaning common staples like bread and milk were in short supply.
The #WasteLess supper at Caffi Sio, Cardiff Bay
The second supper of 2018 brought together chef Lia from Lia’s Kitchen – chief coordinator of these events, with chef Laura from Tidy Kitchen and chef Laurian Veaudour from the awesome Cocorico Patisserie. With support from the Green City Events team, it was their job to make sense of the 70kg of food waste that had been painstakingly collected over the previous few days, and turn it into something delicious. The produce itself came mainly from Sainsbury’s (either food that was in damaged packaging and therefore no longer sellable, or food that had reached its sell-by-date), as well as some cheese from Penylan Pantry.
So what did they create?
To begin the evening, a selection of canapés were offered – I think there were three in total but I was flitting about chatting at this point and think I may have missed a couple. I did pick up a bitesized sourdough tartelette, made by Cocorico chef Laurian using taleggio cheese donated by the Penylan Pantry (but I scoffed this whilst chatting to someone else on my table without even thinking so I don’t have a picture to share with you…) Apologies!
Next up it was raclette pots – little ramekins of melted cheesy goodness from Penylan Pantry served with Lia’s Kitchen pickled apple, carrot and boiled potato, and topped with Za’atar. I loved this, like a comforting cheese fondue and the perfect antidote to all that snow – as I had a few cheese haters on my table, I ate more than my fair share, too…
Next, we were treated to the most amazing chicken and pork scotch egg, served with Penylan Pantry whipped gorgonzola, herb salad and an Aubergine relish that had been lovingly created by Eira from Inner City Pickle. I loved the mix of chicken and pork in this dish, it made it much lighter than a usual scotch egg – props to the lady on my table who identified it on first bite.
There was a veggie version of this dish on offer too, made with chickpeas and black beans rolled in oats, but sadly I didn’t get to try it. I’m sure it was lush.
Our third course was another Tidy Kitchen creation – a fantastic chicken and ham terrine with prosciutto, served with potato Skordalia dip (like a hummus), pickled grapes, cucumber ribbons, mixed herb mayo and some Cocorico sourdough mini beads.
Can you believe that this was made with food waste!? A word here, to the talents of Laura, the chef and founder of Tidy Kitchen, a new catering company in Cardiff. Laura and I coincidentally went to university together (we studied English Literature), and she was pulled into this WasteLess supper at the very last minute and absolutely pulled it out of the bag with the dishes she created. I mean, just look at them!
A trio of desserts completed our meal; a creamy Cocorico sourdough ice-cream, a mint panna cotta and a refreshing citrus salad. All three of these were lovely, but I was completely smitten with the sourdough ice-cream; so smooth and not too sweet, my perfect dessert. I need that recipe.
I absolutely loved about this WasteLess supper at Caffi Sio and was blown away by the amount of effort, passion and creativity that went into the event, and under such mitigating circumstances too – it was an effort to get anywhere on this particular night thanks to all the snow, but these guys absolutely bossed it.
What I particularly about the #WasteLess supper concept is that it opens up conversations about food waste at home. On our table we all talked about how as individuals, we can each be less wasteful with our food, and how we could be more creative with our ingredients and produce to make it last longer; I think I shocked my table by telling them that I basically eat from my freezer whenever I am at home, but for me, I have found that it gives me the freedom to eat out / stay out / work late at a moment’s notice, without worrying what I am letting spoil in my fridge back. I realised by speaking to people at this event that I might be a bit of a minority in that respect.
That being said, this event works even if you’re not particularly bothered about minimising food waste (or maybe you’re a pro at it already). These suppers are a chance to see what local chefs come up with when given a ‘Ready Steady Cook’ style mixed bag of unknown ingredients and the pressure of a room full of pre-paying guests. I was blown away by the creativity and commitment shown by Lia, Laura, Laurian and co, and I’m sure that the chefs involved in the next event will be looking to match their efforts – these guys have really set the bar high!
To meet Lia from Lia’s Kitchen and Becca from Green City Events, and find out about the amazing work that goes on behind the scenes to rescue and use ‘food waste’ – book a ticket to the next #WasteLess supper on the 31st March by clicking here: WasteLess Cardiff supper #3 tickets.