NPR: Warriors Against Waste: These Restaurants And Bars Are Aiming For Zero

September 14, 2017

“Chef Douglas McMaster’s flagship restaurant, Silo, takes that “industrial chic”aesthetic that dominates the modern dining scene to a whole new level. Located an hour south of London, in Brighton, England, the restaurant inhabits a 180-year-old building that has been styled into something like a barn — or a grain silo. Let’s call it preindustrial chic.

After all, McMaster has said that Silo isn’t a restaurant so much as it is a “a preindustrial food system that generates zero waste.”

Zero waste has become a sort of buzzword in the foodie world recently. From San Francisco to New York, London to Amsterdam, restaurateurs are challenging themselves to reduce the staggering amount of food waste that the industry generates (an estimated 571,000 tons annually by U.S. restaurants alone) and the amount of other resources they use — including electricity and water. From rejecting plastic straws to making byproducts like whey the star of a meal — restaurants are approaching that challenge in different ways.

Thirty-year-old McMaster has been at the helm of the movement — he opened Silo in 2014. And he’s the first to say that it’s nearly impossible to run a viable business that never generates any waste.

“Zero waste” is the ideal. But … he’s not going to deny his customers toilet paper.

“Really, it’s about everything being natural and everything either going back into the system or going back into nature,” McMaster says — or at least, it’s about trying his very best to live up to that ideal.

Take, for example, the full English breakfast at Silo, which comes with all the classic components: toast, baked beans and mushrooms, topped with an egg and bacon. But the sourdough toast is baked in-house, from flour that’s milled on site (so there’s no fuel wasted in transporting it). The mushrooms are cultivated on site as well, in discarded coffee grounds. And everything else comes from mostly local growers — delivered sans packaging. It’s all served up on a plate made from recycled plastic bags, for customers to enjoy while seated on stools made from recycled wood pulp. Anything that isn’t eaten ends up inside “Bertha,” which is what McMaster calls the industrial composter prominently displayed in Silo’s lobby…”

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