SILO BRIGHTON, East Sussex and CUB, London | Designed ‘with the bin in mind' is not an obvious buzz-phrase when deciding where to eat. The South Coast hosted the UK’s first zero-waste restaurant from inventive award-winning chef, Douglas McMaster. White Lyan in Hoxton will re-open in September as Cub thanks to Douglas collaborating with Dandelyan’s Ryan Chetiyawardana.
Silo was founded in 2014 on a respect for the environment — contrary to recent newspaper reports suggesting a disrespect for his local community — and now its founder is working on a London project. Douglas' original vision for his North Laine small-plates restaurant was that every plant and animal on the minimalist menu is used to its full potential. With experience at Copenhagen's Noma and London’s St John which both take a nature-led approach to their food, Douglas 'I cook waste' McMaster is using his energies to push boundaries in the capital also.
Zero waste is a concept where waste is eliminated from a product's life cycle and nothing ends up in a landfill. Bouteco is all for a zero-waste lifestyle which requires an awareness where we live in a way where only organic food scraps end up in the bin — or even better, a composter. Everything that has made it through Silo’s doors has demonstrated thought and consideration for its environmental and ethical impact, — and Cub will no doubt share this ethos.
Provenance is paramount. Silo won praise for churning their own butter, milling their own flour, brewing their own beer and baking their own bread which cut out a lot of middlemen. McMaster is a chef who likes to be on first-name terms with farmers — take a bow, Toos Jueken of Laines Organic, purveyors of organic vegetables and Charles Burrell of Knepp Estate whose free-range animals were part of a rewilding initiative. McMaster also likes to forage for ingredients himself. This guarantees a seasonal plate piled with nutritional value. Once these well-sourced edibles have made it into his kitchen every last fibre is used. Any leftovers in Brighton fed to Bertha — the ever-hungry aerobic digester who can generate up to 60kg of compost in 24 hours. Bertha’s services were also open to the public making it a feel-good community story.
It's not just what you eat, it's how and where. Drinks in the bar and restaurant are served in jam jars — not just because they look good in an Instagram, but because they are functional, sturdy and the energy that would have gone into recycling them has been saved. Plates are crafted from plastic bags, tables fashioned from industrial floor tiles, filing cabinets upcycled as work benches and seats from wooden crates. (Possibly why food critic Marina O'Loughlin called them 'arse-challenging'). The delivery of produce in reusable crates, containers, food-grade jerry cans, pails or urns is another eco winner.
Rubbish ideas have never been so worth celebrating.
WORDS: RACHEL LEES, The Foraged Life.