In the UK food industry, food waste is estimated to cost a staggering £5 billion per year. While some chefs may have a cavalier attitude to organic waste, Douglas McMaster, a chef with 12 years experience in international kitchens such as St. John, Greenhouse by Joost in Melbourne, and Quay in Sydney, has returned to the UK to open the first zero-waste restaurant in a monochromatic warehouse in Brighton.
Silo, owned by British chef Douglas McMaster, will offer just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one “wild card”.
In addition to this, all produce will be delivered “package free”, flour will be milled on site, toilets will be flushed using waste water from coffee machines, and the chefs will be serving the food as well as cooking it.
“People might criticise the fact that we use electricity of course, but it’s all relative – we need to be able to see and cook the food,” said Mr McMaster.
Mr McMaster has already sought permission to fit solar panels on the roof and has invested in a £22,000 compost machine to compress any unwanted food scraps.
“Getting around the initial 95 per cent of typical waste was surprisingly simple,” Mr McMaster said. “The secret is to deal with the sources of the ingredients – local farmers and growers who work in a way we respect. We also use vessels that are endlessly reusable – to put it bluntly: things without a packet.”
Mr McMaster’s desire to serve only locally grown, seasonal food comes from his belief that the food industry is “traumatised”.
“We live in a world where we expect avocados and pineapples all year round – foods which aren’t natural to our environment,” he said. “Then there are all the chemicals and stabilisers in our food, which are not natural to our diet and which our bodies don’t know what to do with. It’s no surprise that so many people are developing intolerances to food groups.”
Silo will open in September 2014.