You know my love of food, let’s face it, I didn’t develop this figure by eating nothing but salad! So, when my manager asked me to work with some of Belfast’s best chefs to develop a recipe book, obviously I jumped at the chance. I have a sneak preview here, because the book hasn’t been launched yet – it’s ready to go live on Thursday 27th September as part of our Recycle Week celebrations.
On the off chance that you are in Belfast and would like to join us at the launch event – email email@example.com. The Event is free, but numbers are limited, you will of course be treated to some very interesting and delicious canapés, and a lively discussion too. You can find out more about the event here
Back to my recipe book
There was always going to be a twist, what would make this stand out from all the other thousands of recipe books out there? Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I am a Recycling Officer by day, and with the current push to reduce food waste going to landfill, this recipe book is aimed at doing just that.
I hated the idea of calling it anything to do with food waste, it sounds so grim, and the project was so much more up beat and glitzy than that, hence un-EAT-en, with the emphasis on the EAT hint. hint!
Although delicious and ranging from simple to complicated, all of the recipes are designed to help you use up the annoying leftovers that would otherwise be destined for a long, slow death at the back of your fridge, or make the most of what is available in the reduced aisles at your local supermarket.
The thing is, all of us are responsible for creating food waste at some point in our lives. Sometimes we buy more than we need or we might forget what we have bought and it ends up going off. Historically we had a fabulous tradition of using up leftovers; this is how our Northern Irish specialities of potato bread and Boxty came about; but as society became wealthier, the practice of using up leftovers went out of fashion. However, as any
good successful Chef will tell you, those waste ingredients are A) costing you money, B) often delicious as the hard to access parts are often the tastiest, and C) where you can really turn a profit. Time to get the thinking cap on then!
When I started this project, I might have been happy with a ‘chefie’ glitzed up recipe for Boxty, but my goodness the Chefs that have taken part have delivered so much more! I wonder if I can tempt you with a pesto made from vegetable tops, herb stalks, and hazelnuts from Johnny at the renowned Merchant Hotel. Maybe you fancy trying the perfect roast chicken, with follow up recipes for using up all of what’s left; that came courtesy of David Gillmore at James St South. There is a magnificent pan fried fish and butter bean stew from Ben Arnold at Home and to finish off how about turning stale bread into a delicious steamed marmalade pudding from Paul Waterworth at Coco. As it turns out bread is by far the most wasted food resource in the UK – no excuses any more!
All joking aside, in 2015, UK households binned £13 Billion pounds worth of food, 4.4 million tonnes of food that could have been eaten and this only accounts for the food that we bring home; the waste mountain increases at every step of the food processing chain. The consequences of this are grim, both for the environment and our economy; we need to change. (Statistics from WRAP, Waste & Resources Action Programme)
Here in Belfast, we have quietly been going through a food revolution. Over the past ten years, something magical has happened to the food scene here and Belfast has become one of the most amazing cities in the UK to go out for a meal which is why it made sense to call on the local expertise.
Specialising in locally sourced, high quality ingredients, our Chefs are putting Belfast on the map as a global food destination for epicure tourists. Even the very hard to please food critic Jay Rayner has been pleasantly surprised by what Belfast has to offer. Here’s what he has to say about one of our participating restaurants – James St South.
He’s since been back to visit a few more restaurants – and the word on the street that he has a few more lined up, exciting times!
I am old enough to remember when a good meal in Belfast was measured by the quantity of food on the plate rather than the quality and finding a decent coffee was a bit like the Holy Grail (if more difficult to find). Seriously, ‘good’ coffee was based on the choice of instant coffee… bog standard Mellow Birds or upmarket Kenco, and whether they made it up with boiled milk or water.
Thankfully this is but a distant memory, Belfast is sustaining more than it’s fair share of stunning restaurants and it would be well worth planning a visit during the ‘BelFeast’ food festival in March to sample a few.
All in all this was an unusual project, but enjoyable, particularly if you do want to cut down on your food waste. Hopefully what we have done here celebrates both the superb skill and talent that Belfast has to offer, whilst also making the most of the food we buy.
Look out for a free copy after Thursday at the participating restaurants and Belfast City Council. In the meantime I’m hoping the book goes down as well as the food!
to download a copy