Words by Head Chef, Sam Scott
At Ozone, building a foundation for long-term sustainability in our kitchens is hugely important to us. From a business point of view, we look to champion local suppliers, minimise our wastage at every opportunity and strive to be thought-leaders in innovative fermentation processes. From an internal culture perspective – we are believers in enabling our kitchen teams to explore and experiment with new techniques in order to creatively achieve these broader business objectives.
We are fortunate enough to have a crew made up of young and talented chefs, hungry to push the boat out and to understand and create new, sustainable methods for delivering mind-blowing dishes. At every opportunity, we want to make sure that the food we are putting on the plate is gangster, and drives home our approach to what good food, prepared well, and with consideration, should be.
From my perspective – good food isn’t just how it looks, what products have been used or the latest and greatest kitchen techniques. To me, good food should be about the process of farm to table cooking, minimizing wastage and putting flavours together on the plate that truly complement one another.
When we start planning our new menus, the first thing we look at is what the season ahead holds for us. How could we use trimmings or off-cuts from fruit, veggies or other goods? Where could we utilize second-selection produce on our menus alongside other items? What can we ferment from this season? We do our bit to make sure that we are the caretakers for anything grown that comes into our kitchen – and it is very important for us to show it respect.
For this dish, we first investigated how we could create it using a high percentage of kitchen by-product. From the sourdough trim, the second-selection mushrooms, the herb stems and the spent barista milk from our coffee bar – we knew quite quickly that we were onto a winner. After dehydrating the sourdough, we blitz it into a re-useable flour and incorporate it into the gnocchi. This flour doesn’t carry over the lactic flavour that normally comes with sourdough, which means that its easily incorporated into the dish without it being overpowering.
Day in and day out, our baristas are flat out producing some of the best coffee in London for our customers. In order to keep the coffee flowing, we use a lot of Estate Dairy milk and try not to waste a drop. Anything that is left over from a coffee being served is collected and passed straight onto the kitchen team to turn into ricotta. To make the ricotta, we heat the milk and use an acid to split it so we’re left with a curd. Once cooled, it’s left overnight and the last of the whey is removed, then we delicately smoke it, using the same techniques as beekeepers employ. This leaves us with a beautifully smoked cheese that works really well with the mushrooms. That smoky, earthy flavour is a winner for the English winter!
Our kitchen crew have made a conscious decision to try and help our suppliers by taking second-selection fruit and veg off their hands as much as possible – and mushrooms seem to be frequently available! So, for the past few months we have been buying in mushrooms seconds to clean, dehydrate and pack away for the winter menu. It’s now the perfect time to get these bad boys out and show them off!
Firstly, we rehydrate these mushrooms in leftover mushroom stock from our roasted mushrooms, then we cook them with sage and the gnocchi to really bring home all those natural woody flavours. We then take the rest of the mushroom stock, reduce it to where it’s super intense flavour can be balanced out by Estate Dairy double cream and bring it all together with the bright, fragrant, popping herb stem oil that perfectly brings every other element together as one. It just makes the plate feel complete. AND TO MY MIND IS #FOODMADEGOOD