Chefs at Top 10 restaurant make magic out of leftovers

Ashley Moss, head chef at Greenhouse at the Cellars-Hohenort, number seven in our current Top 10, has laid down an unconventional challenge to his team. Every week the chefs take turns composing a new dish, but there’s a catch: It has to hero not beautiful cuts of meat nor perfect produce, but bits and pieces left over in the kitchen from the preparation of dishes already on the menu.

The Weekly Wastage Challenge *** "Moses Moloi, Senior Chef De Partie has taken a more classical approach and used some very humble ingredients that remind him of back home in Bothabelo (Free State), chicken and rice. The chicken has been flattened out, filled with golden sultanas and pistachios and rolled in bacon, then sous vide at 64c for 20min. He has served it with slightly different take on a risotto. Three different kinds of rice (left over from other dishes and applications around the kitchen) are used to create a multi-textured dynamic risotto. The aged carrots and onion centres were on their way to the compost heap but he has brought them back to life with some extreme heat and careful seasoning." – @ashleybmoss Head Chef of Greenhouse Restaurant. Come back every week to see the dishes. #WeeklyWastageChallenge

A photo posted by Greenhouse (@greenhouse_ct) on

“I wanted a means to keep the chefs creative and inspired,” explains Ashley. “After looking at what we are throwing away, I challenged myself to create a dish using the offcuts and trimmings. That got the ball rolling.”

The Greenhouse team has embraced the Weekly Waste Challenge, volunteering on a weekly basis to create magic with their own Mystery Boxes. “It’s a great opportunity for them to take time and be creative. They can try out ideas or techniques they have read about or seen.”

Not only does the activity foster innovative thinking, help hone new techniques and teach respect for the ingredient, but it has also resulted in raising awareness of waste. “It’s really opened their eyes,” says Ashley. “When we are prepping in the kitchen we look at every little offcut or trimming and think, ‘Hey, how can I use that?’”

So why doesn’t every restaurant do this? What’s the biggest obstacle to reducing waste? “Shortcuts. Often it’s easier to just throw something away than to take the time and effort to incorporate it into the menu. The most difficult part is getting people to have that minimal-waste mindset in everything they do. From prepping fish to washing your hands there is always room for improvement.”

Greenhouse is living up to its name in other ways, too. The team is very mindful of water usage, which is of particular concern while the Cape suffers from record-breaking droughts. They recycle water from ice buckets to wash the floor, for example.

The chefs’ offerings so far have been both beautiful and inspiring. Moses Moloi, senior chef de partie, used some humble ingredients to create a nostalgic dish of chicken stuffed with golden sultanas and pistachios, rolled in bacon, cooked sous-vide and served with a slightly different take on a risotto (using three different kinds of rice left over from other dishes and applications around the kitchen), plus some carrots and onion centres that were brought back to life with smart cooking and careful seasoning.

Junior sous chef Wesley van Wyk created a pork belly dish using a few flowers, herbs and veg from the hotel garden; Julia du Toit took inspiration from a 2014 Greenhouse dish, a mushroom agnolotti with roast aubergine and tomato velouté; and head pastry chef Amy-Margaret Young “stepped out of her sweet comfort zone” to create a savoury dish of sweetcorn panna cotta, miso bacon and tomato.

“I’m looking forward to the next round of dishes my team is going to create,” enthuses Ashley. “There’s a good amount of healthy competition in the kitchen and everyone is excited to have another go.”

To see more, follow Ashley on Instagram @Ashleybmoss and Greenhouse @Greenhouse_CT.

Interested in sustainability in the restaurant industry? Read more about the Eat Out Woolworths Sustainability Award.

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