Inset dish: Cray Fish Starter
To celebrate how far the hospitality sector has come in terms of sustainability, I will be looking at the motivations behind the renowned ethical restaurant, Silo.
by Blue Fletcher/6th-September-2020
Joost Bakker is the man behind the worlds first zero-waste restaurant, with over two decades of experience conceptualising and creating hospitality venues, lead heavily by their sustainable designs. The idea for Silo came about when Bakker simply suggested the idea of ‘not having a bin’, built upon his ‘desire to innovate the food industry whilst demonstrating respect: respect for the environment, respect for the way our food is generated and respect for the nourishment given to our bodies’. Bakker’s sustainable ethos has intrigued a phenomenal amount of people, worldwide, making sure that sustainability ran through every inch of the restaurant: the materials used to build the restaurant, the waste treatment (if any) and the nutritional ingredients featured on the menu. They have managed to hit the sweet spot, balancing a borderline pretentious menu with humble ethics, rooted deeply within a sustainable future.
Head Chef and Founder, Doug McMaster has committed himself to sustainable dining, refusing to throw anything away– meaning that is essential to either reuse, repurpose or recycle everything. Unusable food is fed through their anaerobic digester, generating up to a whopping 60kg of compost in only 24 hours. Alongside Silo’s zero-waste policy, it is of high priority that no plastic or polystyrene makes its way into the restaurant’s supply chain and that all ingredients are either made from scratch on-site (eg. they even have a fully functional flour mill) or sourced sustainably through trustworthy farmers. McMaster utilizes his attention to detail, preparing all meat produce with a nose-to-tail approach, making use of every part of the animal. The same goes for fruit and vegetables, as the ‘wonky’ produce is blitzed up in smoothies. This further highlights Silo’s priorities as the ‘restaurant [was] designed from back to front, always with the bin in mind’. Not only is their food sustainable, but also their supply chain. By choosing to trade directly with farmers, re-use delivery vessels and utilize local ingredients they can operate with zero waste.
“We want to change the way that people think about sustainability and sustainable restaurants. It doesn’t always have to be rough and ready, I want to prove that zero waste can be high-end.”
Design studio Nina+Co, are an interior design company that consider two elements in each of their projects: the community around them and the environment. They had the mammoth task of designing the one-of-a-kind restaurant, utilizing cork, mycelium, seaweed, recycled waste plastic & recycled glass. The large open space radiates light with its white walls and recycled plastic bar space, contrasted with dark timber beams and sustainably sourced wooden features. In an ultimate effort to close the loop, glass wine bottles, consumed by diners previously, have been crushed, moulded and kiln-fired into perfectly formed wall lights. The most unusual transformation, however, is the use of Mycelium. This is the vegetative part of fungi, constructed to form a range of items such as pendant lamps, tables and seating. This is a huge step for the hospitality industry as Nina+Co have rightfully proved that a zero-waste space is both achievable and attractive.
“By applying circular thinking, utilizing sustainable materials and considering how they will either biodegrade or be disassembled for repurposing in the future, we created a thoughtful interior that lives up to the elegance and integrity of the food. Some of the innovative materials we hoped to incorporate, like potato waste bio-plastic, pine-needle fibreboard and seaweed fabrics are not yet ready for a commercial environment… However, if a small pioneering restaurant like Silo can achieve what we achieved, I hope and expect the hospitality industry as a whole to step-up their game and apply their substantial collective spend to these areas.” – Nina Woodcroft
However, the most important feature after all, is of course the food. Their innovative menu changes frequently, highlighting the seasonality of products. Consisting of a popular tasting menu and other small dishes in the likes of ‘preserved tomato with Mexican marigold and aged cheese; pink fir potatoes with caramelised whey and kale treacle; cuttlefish with white kimchi; or dairy cow, cooked over the fire and served with celeriac and aged buttermilk.’ You’re encouraged to wash this down with a cocktail paired specifically for your meal. For the more adventurous diners, you have several ferments made in house, brewed from leftover herbs and ingredients. You may be expecting a hefty price tag, however you will be pleasantly surprised that every single dish is under £10 (at the time of writing this blog)!
“At Silo we’re local, of course, organic, of course, but we also focus on so much more in the realm of sustainability that no one really looks at. Obviously the zero waste, not having a bin thing is a big part of sustainability. I mean, it’s a big statement, but there are so many other ideas… Part of my personal mission is to turn a dull and insipid topic, waste, into something a bit edgy and rock and roll. I want to make it cool and sort of beautiful – it is a beautiful thing.” – Doug McMaster
Above images; Exterior image of the Plastic Free Larder. Below an image showing volunteers who help keep the community enterprise running! Their website which recently introduced a delivery service. https://packagefreelarder.uk