What does cooking in Refettorio Felix mean to you?
When you’re an established chef or restauranteur, the easiest thing to do when you want to support a charity is to put your hand in your pocket and donate money or a couple free meals. I’ve done many charity dinners and events, but taking the time to plan and prepare a meal at Refettorio Felix is a different level of charity; it reaches those who need it directly.
Where do you get your ingredients from?
I get a list of wasted produce from The Felix Project, an amazing organisation that collects nutritious, fresh food that cannot be sold in supermarkets and delivers it to charities like Refettorio Felix so they can provide healthy meals to those in need.
On top of the food The Felix Project provides, I bring in leftover sauces and ingredients from The Ledbury and vegetables from my garden. Every bit counts.
Do you have any tips for how people can combat food waste at home?
It’s not just restaurants that are guilty of wasting food. Families especially waste tonnes of food! What seems like just half an onion in the side of the fridge can be salvaged with a couple of cherry tomatoes and spices to make a bolognese. Chop up left over parsnips, carrots, potatoes and add a handful of grains into a freezer bag to make a soup kit. And after you have maximised all your fresh produce, and you still have lots left, consider donating it rather than letting the food go off at home.
What do you have to say to your fellow chefs who are thinking of donating their time to this project?
The produce won’t be restaurant quality, and there may not be enough of everything to make what you need. Chefs need to come in and assess what’s in stock and then make it work. Young chefs can learn a great deal as it challenges you to be creative—rather than going out to buy a pint of heavy cream, I once infused garlic into 200 little pods of skim milk.
I could easily order in a lovely piece of fish for everyone, but the challenge is to use up what they have. Coming into the kitchen at Refettorio Felix means you need to embrace the spirit of the project and not buy ingredients especially for the menu you want to create, as that could mean even more food wastage at the end of the day.
At Refettorio Felix you cook and nourish people with leftover food. As chefs, you can make it more delicious than they could’ve ever imagined
Interview by Veronica Valdes
All images courtesy of ©SimonOwen/Wonderhatch
At Refettorio Felix you cook and nourish people with leftover food. As chefs, you can make it more delicious than they could’ve ever imagined.