Matt Orlando: "We need to stop using the phrase 'waste cooking'"

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Matt Orlando chef Amass waste cooking

Related tags: Chef, Cooking

Former Noma chef de cuisine Matt Orlando is calling on the industry to change the way it talks about food waste.

Orlando believes chefs will struggle to inspire the wider public to re-use more from their kitchen if they continue to refer to recycled ingredients as ‘trash’.

The chef aims to turn all the leftover produce at his Copenhagen restaurant Amass in to new dishes and ingredients, and since opening has reduced the amount of food thrown in the bin by 75%.

“One thing I’ve really learned over the past two years is if we want this way of approaching produce to become the norm it’s really important we learn a new language to talk about it,” the chef said during a speech at Food On The Edge in Galway last week.

“We need to stop calling this waste cooking or trash cooking, because if we keep using those words that’s all the stuff is going to be. [These ingredients] are another product that we’re working with.”

Unexpected flavours

American-born Orlando is no stranger to sustainable cooking. He worked at Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York – an experience he likens to ‘joining a cult’ – and was Noma’s first chef de cuisine for two and a half years before leaving to open Amass in 2013.

In his first solo project he aims to re-use as many ingredients as possible, frying fish bones as snacks, making sauces from fermented potato bread, and creating vegetable crisps out of leftover carrots, all while growing his own produce in a 600 sq m garden next to the dining room.

“We have found flavours in things we weren’t expecting,” said Orlando.

“It doesn’t matter what you do to create something, unless it’s delicious you’re not going to convince anybody that what you’re doing is the right thing.”

Amass-dishes
Dishes at Amass  L - Beet Sherbert, Rhubarb, Salted Grains, Pine; and R - Mackerel, Green Strawberry, Lettuces, Rapesed Oil 

Visitors to Amass’ 65-cover dining room can pay up to £107 for an extended dinner menu, and £47 for lunch, but Orlando says his time working for Keller has inspired him to look at the impact of sustainable cooking beyond the restaurant's doors.

“At Amass we’re committed to this way of working for the long run,” he said. “I worked for Thomas Keller for a long time and one of his core values is impact…so for me this is part of a bigger picture on how to make an impact not just on the restaurant industry but all the different links in the food chain.

“If we want to keep using the products we’re using, we need to use them in a more productive way to fully utilise what we have. If we don’t the generations that come after us will definitely not have the same ingredients to cook with as we have.”

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