With twelve years fine dining experience from all over the world, Douglas McMaster, has returned to the UK hoping to change the way restaurants source, cook and sell their food. His initiative is the zero-waste restaurant.
The philosophy is simple; Take a quiet, 50 seat restaurant in Brighton and serve only locally grown, seasonal food and throw nothing away. The country’s first permanent zero-waste restaurant, named Silo, will minimise up to 95% of the usual waste produced from regular restaurants. The concept is powerful and could have a long term effect on the restaurant industry.
Once a pot-washer for country hotels, McMaster, has experienced food cultures from New York to Copenhagen and Melbourne. His wealth of experiences have lead him into believing there is a plausible, effective and exciting way to tackle the food wastage that is evident in the restaurant industry. Challenging the way ingredients are sourced, kitchens are cleaned and energy is consumed is all part of the zero-waste system at Silo. What exactly makes a zero-waste restaurant?
McMaster explains: “The thing I love about the system is that it is actually so simple. Essentially, we have a fancy compost machine that will ensure there is zero waste from food and scraps. Then we choose to directly deal with local sources for all the ingredients we use. Whether it’s a guy living locally making honey, a milkman or any of our meat sources.”
“We work to make sure that all the transport methods of the ingredients can also be recycled one way or another. For example, the milk comes in jerry cans so that they can be used for different oils and vinegars and we by-pass the need for agricultural crates that get stacked away by the hundreds at the back of restaurants. The idea is to make sure that everything we source is either un-packaged or recycled.”
“We are even in application for solar panels to create our own energy, this is one of the reasons we picked a location with a great roof space. The most unique aspect is that we will be using electrolysed oxidised water. It is a brilliant piece of science that was developed for open wound surgery. It takes normal tap water and turns it into anti-bacterial water through the process of electrolysis. It is three times more hygienic then your average hand soap and we will be using it in and around the restaurant. Our carbon footprint will be phenomenal.”
The new restaurant opens on Upper Garden Street in September. McMaster stumbled across the location on a weekend visit to the seaside and instantly knew the stunning location and architecture matched his motive. The restaurant will serve six staple dishes on every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one “wild card”. A particular recommendation is the ‘create your own’ Silo breakfast menu; complete with caramelised tomatoes, baked in house bread, oyster mushrooms grown on site, local cheeses, coddled duck eggs and a lot more.
For those at home McMaster recommends simple methods to reducing your own food wastage, he said: “I recommend the usual, simple steps to cutting down your wastage. Try to make sure you use any food scraps and eat everything. When a celebrity chef turns scraps into a sexy looking meal everybody loves it, so go out and do the same with your own imagination. Try to source locally and in season fruit and vegetables too.”
How do you think zero-waste restaurants will benefit society?