How to transform surplus to tackle food waste



Your favourite fruit and veg supplier calls offering to offload some surplus produce. You’re a chef, you value food. It’s your most important asset. So we’ve put together some top tips from the best transformers of ingredients that might otherwise reach a rubbish end.

Raymond Blanc OBE, President of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, learned the mantra, “You shall not waste”, from his mother, Maman Blanc, from a very early age: He’s taken that ethos into all of his kitchens and is a huge enthusiast of dishes that use the entire ingredient.


photo of Raymond Blanc
Raymond Blanc OBE

Blessed with an abundant orchard, Raymond and his kitchen team at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, have found a very English way of using up surplus fruits. “Take your leftover apples and plums, bring to the boil with a touch of ginger, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, molasses, apple cider vinegar and leave to reduce for two hours until thick and syrupy, then blend until smooth.” Hey presto, you have your own Michelin star version of Brown Sauce.


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Nicholas Balfe of Salon in Brixton has come up with a waste busting dish that’s also a way more sustainable version of a dish that’s invaded every breakfast menu. It’s devilishly simple too.


Nicholas Balfe

“I think it’s fair to say the smashed avo craze has passed its peak, and we’ve all realised that as good as avocados are, they’re probably not the most sustainable thing we could be piling on our toast.”


“Having said that, we still like the idea of a big dollop of green goodness on our sourdough in the mornings, so we developed this recipe using all of our broccoli leaves and trimmings, inspired by smashed avo’s older, retro cousin. Briefly saut the stalks blended with a little veg stock. It’s great on toast and has a texture similar to smashed avocado… that’s how it earned the name ‘broccomolé.”

Homes across Britain boast binloads of bananas and bread. With short shelf lives these items can easily go to waste in a commercial kitchen. As Justin Horne of Tiny Leaf demonstrates with this scrumptious hack, Decadent Banana & Croissant Chocolate Pudding, they really needn’t be.

With 2-3 over ripe bananas, 5-6 of yesterday’s croissants or pain au chocolat,and the addition of 5 eggs, 300ml milk, 300ml cream, 5 tbsp softened butter,50g raisins, 50g caster sugar and1/2 tsp cinnamon you’ve got the makings of a delish dessert.

If you find yourself in a pickle with a proliferation of produce, a pickle could well be your saviour. Preserving can provide something of a panacea, as Rob Howell of Bristol restaurant Root explains.


Rob Howell

“Whether you’re left with more vegetables than you know what to do with or you grow your own and have a glut, fermentation is a great way of using them up.”


“Shred cabbage, carrot and perhaps kohrahbi, weigh it and add two per cent salt. Then massage or pummel it until there’s enough moisture to cover it. Then cover it and store in something like a Kilner jar in the fridge forever. We’re currently serving it with grilled sardines, but you can try it with salads, sandwiches or any grilled meat or fish.”

Rob Howell, chef at Root, in Bristol has another excellent, simple suggestion born of frustration of binning delicious homemade bread at the end of service.

“We make all our own bread in the restaurant now but sometimes find we’ve baked too much and after the staff have all had a bit at the end of the night, we leave the rest in the hot cupboard. Then we blitz that in the food processor, add some flour a few sesame seeds and some butter, make it into a dough and roll it out. You can then bake that and hey presto – you’ve got some lovely crackers.”

If fermenting leaves you cold but you’d still like to revitalise your veg, those organic champs at Daylesford have some top tips.

“Buying good vegetables to begin with means they will still have life in them. For example, floppy carrots may not be good for serving with dips or in salads, but, try roasting and dressing with soy and honey. Soft tomatoes and peppers are wonderful in thick sauces. Even limp lettuces can be revived: chop into halves or quarters, drizzle with a little oil, sizzle on a hot griddle pan and dress with lemon and crumbled feta or goat’s cheese.”



Find out about our how you can fight food waste with our Food Waste: Bad Taste Programme  :


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