WastED pop-up restaurant – Riverford meets New York

Last year we received a very exciting email asking if we’d like to be involved with a pop-up restaurant at Selfridges. It would be hosted by the illustrious Blue Hill Farm Restaurant, based in New York. Dan Barber, the head chef at Blue Hill, is something of an inspiration to our cooks at Riverford. Their ethos is similar to our own, with a focus on sustainable and local food from producers who respect artisanal techniques. The most exciting bit? The menu would use produce that would normally be considered waste; we’re not talking wonky veg, but by-products of the food industry that are never used.

After a little brainstorming, it was decided that Riverford would provide whole kale trees (the stalks with a few leaves on that are left at the end of the season), cabbage re-growth (leaves that re-appear once the cabbage has been harvested), and very undersized cabbages (ones that are too small to pick).

The pop-up opened its doors on Selfridges’ rooftop terrace on February 24th. Immediate feedback from the chefs told us the kale trees were going down a storm and were a visual sensation. They serve them whole on a spike on a wooden board, alongside scissors to cut the leaves yourself and a creamy, smoky dip.

A couple of us were lucky enough to go along. We entered through a dark corridor with black and white food and farming videos playing, and Jonny Cash’s Walk the Line on the playlist. Immediately, it was clear that the waste theme went further than just the food: there were lampshades made from dried mushrooms, tables from compressed artichoke fibres, and menus on recycled paper.

Each dish was presented to us with a story: how it’s made and where the produce comes from. Everything we ate and drank was innovative, wonderfully delicious and so inspiring. In a world where we waste a huge amount and many go without, projects like this are a fantastic way to fuel the food waste movement and keep the conversation alive.

To find out more, visited the WastED London website.

6 responses to “WastED pop-up restaurant – Riverford meets New York

  1. It was so good to see the item on how waste food can be used. I ALWAYS look at the broccoli in my box and say “where are the leaves?” Undoubtedly wasted!
    Cauliflower is probably the same. So much good veg wasted.

    • Hi Jane, that is a good point, however, any veg trimmings left in the field are very valuable to the soil nutrition so technically are not wasted. We plough them back in to the soil and they produce nitrogen which is very important and provides a rich, healthy soil for the next crop.

  2. Janet Laurence

    Fantastic article – the photographs were truly inspiring. My professional gadener neighbour has kale trees in this front garden. I looked at them only this morning and wondered what they were! I loved the details of the food, my only quibble was the amount of time the receipts must take to make! Your professionals no doubt produce them in a twinkling, us home cooks would take rather longer! Nevertheless, keep on inspiring us to waste less and produce more wonderfully tasty, unusual, and saving-the-planet dishes.
    Thank you – and good to know there are restaurants in New York working on these priciples.

  3. this whole idea really appeals to me. I hate throwing away uncooked scraps which are probably full of nutrition, there are plenty of available recipes for leftover cooked foods but not uncooked scraps which are often dumped (although I have a wormery for veg & fruit peelings, meat, bread & fish goes on bird table). How about some Riverford recipes for veg & fruit “scraps”?

  4. I love the tables and chairs.
    The entire concept is great and needs to filter down to the small town high streets.

  5. I find this article very depressing….the situation where the wealthy sit themselves at artichoke crushed tables in the ambient light from mushroom shaded lamps,eat ‘waste’ food and kid them selves that they are saving the planet at a price per head that many households have to feed themselves on for a week I find gut churning. The point that incredible things can be made by recycling we understand but there is little evidence in our every day lives. Supermarkets still can’t manage to sell produce in biodegradable packaging….unless it’s’ organic week’. Using all the food we buy and wasting none should be what we all do,not patting ourselves on the back for. If ‘waste’ food can be made into such expensive dishes why is it not packed off to the nearest convenience food factory and turned in to something every body can enjoy,not just the rich in London?

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