One of the most pertinent issues facing the food industry today is the need for sustainable and ethically sourced produce, due to the number and frequency of events we cater, this is amplified when entertaining.
Creating a menu for a small group may be easy enough, but when it comes to feeding hundreds or even thousands in one sitting, the potential for waste can be fairly significant.
Heading up a brigade of chefs, who often cater for up to 1,000 guest’s, means having to accurately scale up operations to fulfil client needs’ without over serving. As a chef I am always looking for innovative new techniques which will help ensure none of our food is wasted.
Our team employs tactics such as using an ingredient across the menu or creating contingency plans for leftovers, to avoid throwing perfectly good produce out. For example, any bread that isn’t used and ends up stale, can be whizzed up in the food processor with some sage and olive oil to be used the next day as breadcrumbs.
We also implement this method to make use of all edible parts of an ingredient. This is particularly true for meat and fish, as less desirable cuts are often wasted rather than being used to their potential. Neck fillet for
example is an underrated, often quite cheap cut, and it bears some of the richest flavours an animal has to offer.
The key to creating a sustainable menu is in the planning. Establishing relationships with sustainable local suppliers from the off will not only mean your produce is generally of a higher quality, but will also cut food miles, while ensuring freshness and suporting the local community. Sticking to menus that are seasonal highlights your adaptability as well as ensuring only the freshest produce is used and that the menu is providing a natural variety.
This is particularly important when it
comes to wild seafood. It is essential, for example, to avoid species placed on the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) protected list and it is often easier than expected to substitute popular choices like Cod, for less endangered species in the same family, such as Pollack or Pouting.
Becoming sustainable does, of course, require some degree of creativity and innovation. By introducing new ingredients from unused produce, you can easily refresh and update your menu while making use of food that would have otherwise gone to waste.
When creating your own sustainable event menu, ask yourself these three questions; “what is the impact on the product supply?”, “what is the impact on the environment?” and “what is the impact on the local community?”
If you are able to develop a menu which takes all of these into account and minimises the negative effects on each, you will have taken your first steps towards a more sustainable, maintainable and ethical menu.
Written by Tom Gore, Executive Chef at The Brewery
Heavily influenced by his global culinary experiences, from working in kitchens all over the world, Tom’s ethos is to keep the basis of his dishes simple and use classic flavours, to create recipes with unusual combinations to a fine-dining standard.
Bringing his vitality and passion to the kitchen, Tom has pushed the boundaries of clients’ expectations for conferences and events, and working with his brigade of chefs, cater for all in-house events from private parties to award ceremonies and conferences for up to 1,000.