With armfuls of sourdough loaves, Julia and Lizzie arrived early at the Centre to feed our guests. In three hours, they created a delicious meal and made a chilly day much warmer.
What was it like selecting the produce from the Felix food truck?
It was exciting! We were very careful to be here on time, because we were a bit concerned about not having done this for a while. We’ve been baking, not cheffing, at E5.
But it was super fun going through all the produce. There was lots of variety. I didn’t think there would be that many different things we could choose from. I thought we would just get carrots and leeks and stuff like that. It became clear quite quickly that it would be a fruit and vegetable-led meal, which is what we’re naturally drawn to anyway. Just looking at the truck, we weren’t even thinking about meat. And we were feeling super inspired by the beautiful papayas, we thought, “yes we’ll definitely make a papaya salad.”
We even had a package of rhubarb!
What was the menu?
We did a papaya salad with coriander, chili, tomatoes and cucumber. It’s an Asian style salad, but we made it really fresh and zingy, with chili, mint and coriander.
Then, because it was quite cold, we wanted to do something really warming. So, for the main course we roasted the peppers until they were super sweet, dark and delicious, and we made some mushrooms with leeks and onions and let it braise for an hour or so. It all reduces to this mush that’s really flavourful, and you can add some canned tomatoes and paprika. It’s sort of goulash-like. Although any Hungarian person would say it’s not really goulash, it’s a ragu.
We were really thrilled with the hasselback potatoes. We added loads of delicious butter and rosemary, and made the potatoes super thin so they came out really nice and crispy, like little accordions or weird little hedgehogs.
And then the crumble… everyone loves crumble. We used lots of fruits and berries, so it was warming and comforting. It was basically a menu that I would like to eat.
Can you speak a little bit about zero-waste?
At E5 we’re super conscious about not throwing anything away. Each day it’s kind of a similar set-up to here, in terms of how the kitchen runs. We have one main course and one soup. So things are often re-imagined, and wastage is kept as much as possible to a minimum. And of course we’re making bread all the time. We try and get it right, but it’s really difficult to judge, because it’s always a guessing game. That’s why, first of all, it’s really nice to bring the bread here, to serve at the table. It wouldn’t have been thrown away, but it wasn’t sold yesterday, the day it was made so it was going to be re-purposed.
We’re always making breadcrumbs and soups. The kitchen has to be really creative with all the bread they get from the bakery.
That’s very much a part of how E5 works and how we think. We’re very careful with how much we order. And there are other ways that we try to incorporate bread. With our zero waste bread, you take what would be waste bread, and toast it, then you soak it in water and make this deep-coloured mush. You mix that back into the dough; it’s a really great way of using up old bread.
And also we are fermenting a lot of things in the kitchen. When they have vegetables that aren’t that nice anymore, they pickle them.
We’re trying to develop more of a dialogue with our suppliers, so let’s say they have loads of cauliflower or carrots, they call us and say we accidentally have 6 crates of carrots, do you want to turn it to pickles?
Did you have any interaction with our guests?
We were basically sent to one of the tables, because they wanted to talk to us about the food and what they thought about the place. We heard about how they do art classes and all of the other things that are offered here.
Actually, I didn’t really consider how we would interact with people, so when we were asked to come out because they said they wanted to thank us, I was a bit overwhelmed. As a cook it’s such a nice and important interaction to be able to speak to the people that you’re cooking for, because you won’t know whether they liked it or not. And we were very pleased. It was very cheff-y because one of the first volunteers came back with the first plate and we wanted to know if they liked it! We were just afraid that people wouldn’t.
One of the ladies said the two women sitting next to her were French and they said in France if you served this meal you’d have to pay 75 pounds for it! That was great.