Perth Restaurants Are Putting Sustainability Back On The Menu
Earlier this year, Fremantle’s Young Georges declared their kitchen a disposable plastic-free zone.
Generating some 52 mega tonnes of general waste, and $8 to $10 billion worth of food waste each year, Australia is ranked as the fifth highest waste per capita producing country in the world. With shows like The War on Waste emphasising these staggering figures, the impact of our throwaway society is becoming more evident than ever. While environmentally friendly business practice and sustainability is yet to take off across the board, there are a handful of Perth restaurants that are doing what they can to reduce their environmental impact.
Earlier this year, Fremantle’s Young George declared their kitchen a disposable plastic free zone. With some investment and patience, what began as a pang of guilt for owner and head chef Melissa Palinkas, is now a complete sustainable overhaul.
“The reason I did it was because I would come in on a Monday and my bins would be overflowing with plastic and waste. I just used to feel guilty. That is when I went ‘no, I can’t do this anymore’, and started implementing these things,” say Palinkas.
From storing sauces and syrups in recycled glass jars, to a more involved practice of providing their own crates to suppliers for daily deliveries, the difference Palinkas has seen in plastic waste coming from Young George has been substantial.
“It is not hard to fill up a skip bin in a week,” she says. “But I have totally noticed that our rubbish has gone down just from removing the plastics. Obviously, you can’t always get rid of all the plastic – there is always going to be waste of some description. But, we try to minimise what comes in, and recycle everything the best we can, to remove things that are of harm to the planet.“
Removing plastic from the kitchen is just one of many ways Perth restaurants are leading the charge in sustainability.
Fellow Fremantle restaurant Bib & Tucker has cut down on water wastage by installing environmentally friendly custom designed toilet cisterns that use recycled hand basin water to flush; and they have struck up a deal to recycle their coffee grounds for use as mulch on a mushroom farm. To the south-east, Millbrook Winery has established their vineyard and orchards on undulating ground, reducing their water usage and allowing for more sustainable practice.
The three restaurants have not only been instrumental in adopting sustainable practices to reduce general waste and water wastage, but they have brought life to the ‘nose to tail’ movement in Perth. Pioneered by former head chef of Greenhouse, Matt Stone, the movement is an education on how to best minimise food wastage. With more restaurants now holding themselves accountable, Stone’s movement is slowly but surely gathering steam in Perth.
Head chef of Bib and Tucker, Scott Bridger, is both an advocate of home gardens and foraging for food, and the nose to tail concept. In the past, Bridger has instigated collaborative 5-course nose to tail dinners with local butchers, showcasing how secondary cuts of meat can be utilised.
On a more regular basis, Millbrook Estate Winery runs their ‘No Waste Monday’, masterminded by head chef Guy Jefferies. Each Monday, a set 3-course lunch is creatively pieced together with only leftovers from the busy weekend service and Millbrook garden.
Recently, Palinkas held her own ‘trash’ dinner at Young George’s. The ticketed four-course meal showcased not only lesser used cuts of meat and fishery by-product, but the typically scrapped parts of vegetables too, such as trash fennel jam.
“The jam is made from the fennel stalks and stems, that come from the top of the fennel bulb. We have managed to cook it down with sugar and spices, preserve them, and then we serve it with grilled haloumi. The sweetness and the saltiness goes perfectly together, with some pistachios for texture,” says Palinkas.
Cooking with typically scrapped parts of produce and having it appeal to the consumer takes considerable thought; but Palinkas enjoys the process and promoting sustainability.
“It is fun trying to get to the crux of how we can use things. It is a very creative process,” she says.
Although it is Palinkas’ first foray into the no waste dinners, her sights are already set high.
“This is the first part of my movement – just localising the idea and really trying to get other restaurateurs and chef friends of mine on board’ she said. ‘I think one of the ways that I would like to move it is to do a collaboration with a whole group of chefs and do a big waste dinner. We could share all the waste from each other’s restaurants, and really put our heads together and showcase what you can actually do.”
(Lead image: Octopus from Young George. Photo: Supplied)
Published 02 November, 2017