Chef united against wastes

The tools that give value to leftovers, recommended by Josean Alija, Mehmet Gürs e Viviana Varese

09-01-2015
According to Viviana Varese of restaurant Alice in

According to Viviana Varese of restaurant Alice inside Eataly Milano one should not throw away anything, not even fish bones, which are good for making a jus or even a sauce

With the holidays behind us, it is easy to have the fridge full of leftovers or with some ingredients which were not completely used. We all have our recipes to recycle leftovers and, thanks to the recession and to a greater sensitivity to this theme, people are increasingly careful to waste as little as possible. In order to have a few extra recommendations, I referred to fine dining and wrote to various chefs, collecting precious tips from different countries around the world, because the theme of food waste involves every country and culture.

Josean Alija of Nerua in Bilbao: all food can be recycled

Josean Alija of Nerua in Bilbao: all food can be recycled

Josean Alija (Nerua in Bilbao, in the Basque Country) suggests to take advantage of the holidays to spend time in the kitchen and choose the menu to be served to the guests by preferring simple dishes which we have already mastered, because the holidays are a season to return to tradition and spend time with family and friends around the table with dishes that give lots of satisfaction and guarantee success. He then suggests always to serve some jamón ibérico during the holidays because it is capable of making a menu special, served with a personal touch. It is impossible to throw it away, should it be left over, as it is versatile also as an addition to other dishes. Leftover fish and seafood can become the base for a soup that will always be appreciated and delicious, to which one can add any vegetables left over, both raw and cooked. With leftover meat, instead, you can prepare a filling for fresh pasta or some baking tins of baked vegetables, which as in the case of traditional dishes are never tiring nor disappointing.

Viviana Varese (Alice in Milan) also recommends drawing from traditional recipes, in order not to waste, because it is possible not to throw away any food, you just have to want to and to organise yourself. In particular, for those who have cooked fish during the holidays, the left over meat can be used as a seasoning for pasta. The bones of the fish, as well as the head and any other waste can be easily recycled to prepare a rich broth but also some jus or a sauce.

Mehmet Gürs (Mikla in Istanbul) and the meze logic: small portions, great variety

Mehmet Gürs (Mikla in Istanbul) and the meze logic: small portions, great variety

Mehmet Gürs (Mikla in Istanbul) also concentrates on the fact that holidays, in particular religious ones, are often the cause of remarkable food waste, all over the world, while they should be a chance to be compassionate and to share. “This is a great paradox and we have the duty to avoid it, this is why it is preferable to plan in advance in order not to have to save and recycle later”, he adds. Planning means knowing the menu in advance and using each part of any raw material, to take the highest value and waste as little as possible. This doesn’t mean you cannot serve many dishes and ingredients, with regards to which the chef adds: “the Christmas table at my grandmother’s, for instance, was incredible, you couldn’t even see the tablecloth under so many dishes.

If you enjoy serving lots of different dishes, do so, but in small quantities so that everyone can have a taste of everything without risking any wastes. The meze logic is perfect at Christmas and during holidays in general: small portions, great variety and very many different flavours. Instead of preparing a portion for each person of each dish, as usually the case, why not simply calculate the total amount of food that is necessary? It is likely that our guests have different tastes and will appreciate eating more of what they prefer in the quantity they wish.

If you want to prepare a meat based main course for the holidays, choose for instance some baked ham, which will be excellent served hot on the day and will also be fantastic the following days, cut into thin slices and enjoyed as a filling for a sandwich or with omelettes, pasta and other recipes. At Christmas, my mother always prepares a purée of apples to pair with the baked ham. If it is left over, put it into the yogurt in the morning and you’ll feel you’re in heaven.” Reinventing a recipe on the next day can be a great source of satisfaction and can make us feel in paradise, on top of doing good to our conscience. Saving at home also means paying attention to small things and giving value to every ingredient, including the less noble parts and what is left over after a great meal, as the ones you have enjoyed and shared during the holidays that have just ended.


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Tecniche, ingredienti e iniziative della ristorazione attenta all'ambiente e agli ideali di Expo 2015, viste da Lisa Casali