One man’s scraps are another man’s treasure. Dine deliciously with the new ‘Wasted!’ Chef’s Table experience at Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, where ‘fashionably rejected’ parts of produce are transformed into imaginative, irresistible dishes.
The world is waking up to the issue of food waste. And culinarians are doing their part to make changes. One such visionary is Rudi Liebenberg, Executive Chef at Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town. His new ‘Wasted!’ Chef’s Table experience aims to both educate and enthral the city’s gastronomes.
Cape Town is currently one of the world’s most buzzing culinary destinations. Many restaurants and bars are making a conscious effort to combat food wastage, but Chef Rudi wants to take the Chef’s Table a step further. “Once you put your ego aside, everything changes and everything is clear. Unused parts shouldn’t be limited to stocks, soups and worm farms. There’s a whole world to explore when you start fermenting, curing and smoking these parts instead.”
Approximately a third of all food produced globally goes to waste. Each year that accounts to almost 1.3 billion tonnes. In Europe and North America, each person will waste roughly 100kg of food each year. It’s a staggering number when compared to the 10kg of waste per person for those in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. In developing regions more food is trashed early in the supply chain, largely due to harvesting and financial constraints. In developed countries, it is consumers and retailers who are responsible for the biggest losses.
Food waste has far-reaching consequences. Each piece of rejected produce represents a huge amount of misused land, water, energy and labour. Each trashed item results in needless greenhouse gasses that are devastating our environment.
Chef Rudi’s team of talented chefs no longer hide food waste beneath the table. Instead he has empowered them to create a stunning five-course menu which shows how ‘fashionably rejected’ parts of fruits, vegetables, meats and fish can create multi sensory delights. The menu changes each week, depending on what’s in season, but each dish promises to inspire.
Anticipate wonders such as ‘skin and bones’, where beef tendons, chicken and fish skin are fried to a delicious crisp, served with a purée of butternut and potato skins on crunchy Rye melba. The entire cauliflower is used in one dish and prepared multiple ways. Parts roasted, parts pickled; presented as a panna cotta, a salad and a pakora. Trout collar and trimmings become a tantalising tartare, doused in lime atjar and served in corn husks. Typically unused lamb cuts and fat are seasoned and worked into rich ravioli.
The experience is a product of passion for Chef Rudi. “Wasted! Isn’t a new idea in our kitchen, nor in the culinary world. But so many recipes rely on using only the ‘perfect parts’ of produce. I want to be different. I believe we became chefs to be creative when we cook—it’s what defines us,” he opines.
“We should have respect for the ingredient and respect for the farmer, and it kills me when chefs disrespect food,” he continues. “Food is expensive, we owe it to the ingredient to use as much of it as possible.”
The experience is available every Saturday lunchtime, costing R395 per person for a five-course menu with fruit cordial and kombucha. So go ahead and treat yourself. It’s the most guilt-free way to get Wasted! in Cape Town.
By Daniel Hayden
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