Londoners have been paying big bucks to eat food made from ingredients like cod’s heads, used barista milk and stale cupcakes.

It sounds like a Roald Dahl menu – but chef, TED-talker and all-around leader in the war on waste, Dan Barber, has been running a pop-up kitchen in Selfridges London selling exactly that - and it sold out every day. 

The project, named WastED (ED is capped up to stand for education), saw 35 big-name guest chefs chip in to create dishes such as juice pulp veggie burger, cod’s head kedgeree and carrot-top jam.

It even served cocktails of flat champagne and soft drinks made from fruit off-cut cordial.

It might sound a bit far-fetched for the everyday customer, but there’s actually a pretty sensible way pubs could get involved with this. Spent grain.

As part of the WastED project, Beavertown brewery was approached by Dan and the team.

The brewery worked together with local bakery E5 Bakehouse to produce a beer, fantastically named Kneadless Violence and brewed with stale rye bread.

 

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They also donated their spent grain – the leftover grain in the brewing process once the sugars and proteins have been removed.

Usually, the brewery, like many others, send this waste grain to a local farm to use as feed, but WastED was keen to take some of the spent grain for itself to use on menus. 

It got me thinking there could be an opportunity for pubs to link up with local breweries and develop a similar menu. A perfect pairing to the beers on the bar.

If wet, the grains can be used substituted into anything from pancakes to crackers. But you’ll have to move fast or they start to sour. 

It can also be dried out and turned into flour for anything from bread to waffles.

Dan Barber told fcsi.org: “People are increasingly willing to experiment with new ingredients, particularly if there is a story behind them. But ultimately it comes down to: does it taste good?

“I can sell you on why we should be cooking with juice pulp or spent grain, but if I can’t make it delicious, it won’t make a difference.”

For the full story on the pubs already thinking about their menus like this, watch out for my feature in the May issue of Inapub.

In the meantime, quit with the trash talk and get experimenting with your garbage.  

Headline picture credit: Clerkenwell Boy