Wednesday, February 26, 2020

In London, Silo, the zero waste restaurant

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Chef Douglas McMaster, on November 30, in his establishment, opened in September in East London. Max Miechowski for M Le magazine du Monde

Douglas McMaster’s restaurant has no trash. For those who have already seen the back-kitchens of a restaurant and the industrial quantities of food wasted, the sentence deserves to be repeated: Silo, the establishment that the young 32-year-old British chef opened in September in the east of London, succeeds in the feat of never throwing anything away!

Not a label, not a plastic box, not a carton. The only waste is organic and fully composted. And even there, the fight against the food waste is constant. On this Thursday evening, after four days of service, the compost container – a simple large plastic bin – is only half full. A school canteen or a traditional establishment would have produced several times this volume of waste each day.

Anti-waste pioneer

Born in Worksop, Midlands, Douglas McMaster, who left school at 16, had no plans to become an anti-junk pioneer. After learning the craft of cooking at two high-end restaurants, he left for Australia to change his air after the death of a friend. There, he meets Joost Bakker, a charismatic Dutch artist, who had just opened a trash-free cafe in Melbourne.

“Our food system is so destructive. I thought it was absurd to create so much waste ”, explains the Dutchman. Joost Bakker had already opened ephemeral places without bins, but which were experimental, built with straw and having agricultural crops on the roof. "People asked me if the idea could be applied to normal coffee. With Silo, I wanted to prove it. The goal was for customers to come because they wanted good coffee or a glass of wine, not because the place was zero waste. "

Quickly, in Melbourne, Douglas McMaster becomes the chef of the restaurant. Three years later, he decided to try the adventure in Brighton, in Great Britain, but with the ambition of going from a small bistro of twenty places to a real restaurant. Joost Bakker grants him the free license to the concept, delighted to see someone sharing the same conviction continue the adventure. To finance its opening on the English coast, the British mortgage his mother's house. "I have now reimbursed, she is relieved …", says he.

"We couldn't find a supplier who didn't package their butter in aluminum. So, we do it ourselves. »Douglas McMaster

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