Sustainable Gastronomy 3 minutes 23 April 2024

How to Minimise Food Waste at Home, According to MICHELIN Green Star Restaurant Chefs

Reduce your carbon footprint in your home kitchen with these helpful tips on minimising food waste and conscious cooking.

Taking more sustainable steps in your daily life can be a little difficult. It’s hard to break certain habits that have been unconsciously part of your day-to-day activities for the longest time. Little things such as keeping the water on for too long, forgetting to turn off the light, or even buying one too many carrots for a dinner dish you plan on making tend to have an impact on our planet in the long run, but it’s not your fault. The world has only just started to act on efforts to minimise their carbon footprint, including the food industry, which has been one of biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

Luckily, the impact of little things goes both ways. Starting greener daily habits can help achieve a more sustainable lifestyle and healthier planet. Some restaurants in the MICHELIN Guide selection, specifically those awarded a Green Star, for example, have taken it upon themselves to work toward applying sustainable efforts in their kitchens and ways of sourcing produce.

One common practice they implement is minimising food waste in their restaurants. Whether its by composting food scraps or incorporating every part of the ingredient across different dishes, the chefs of MICHELIN Green Star restaurants make it their mission to serve good food, while serving the planet. With that being said, it is possible for you to do same!

In the spirit of Stop Food Waste Day, we spoke to three MICHELIN Green Star restaurants in Dubai who share their tips on how you can minimise food waste and be more conscious when cooking at home.



MICHELIN Guide Dubai 2023

Green Star LOWE’s sustainable ethos is found throughout the restaurant. Changing their menu on a seasonal basis, “procuring ingredients as locally as possible” and, of course, aiming to have a zero-waste eatery. “We discard any food scraps into our composting bin and once the compost is ready, it is then used in our vegetable garden where we grow our own herbs and vegetables,” chef Ali Shiddique explains. The restaurant also uses their homegrown produce to test out new dish concepts, menus and staff meals.

Chef’s tips on minimising food waste: As food delivery service becomes more convenient and cheaper, it is easy for us to over order food using these services. So please order just enough for what you want to cut down on food and packaging waste.

Chef’s tips on conscious cooking: Do not be afraid to use 'ugly' vegetables if you can find them. In fact, often times they are cheaper and are grown more organically. Also, visit farmer's market if there is one and support your local producers. Lastly, remember that you do not always have to use imported premium ingredients to cook up a delicious meal.



MICHELIN Guide Dubai 2023

At this Bib Gourmand and Green Star restaurant, Teible, located in the Jameel Arts Centre, sustainability, seasonality, simplicity, and integrity are at the core of its ways of working. Minimising food waste is a big player in their commitment to their four pillars, with chef Masanori Ito explaining that their “practices allow [them] to run an efficient kitchen while being mindful of [their] environmental impact.” Some of the practices includes designing menus that allows their ingredients to have a dual purpose, using every part of their produce/products across different dishes, fermenting, pickling and air drying processes to enhance flavours and shelf life, and lastly composting coffee waste and vegetable trimming.

Chef’s tips on minimising food waste: Begin by planning your meals for the week before heading out to shop, which can curb overbuying and ensure you purchase only what's necessary. When making your shopping list, stay true to it to avoid impulse purchases that often result in waste. Get to know the different food labels like "use-by", "sell-by", and "best before" dates; this understanding can prevent you from discarding food that's still good to eat.

Storing food properly is also key; for example, cereals last longer in airtight containers, and knowing where to place vegetables in the fridge can extend their freshness. Don't overlook the potential in food scraps – they can be turned into stocks or broths, adding flavour and nutrition to your cooking.

Serving smaller portions can help reduce uneaten food, and if there are leftovers, consider them for your next meal, perhaps repurposed into omelettes, soups, or stir-fries. Composting organic waste diverts it from landfills and contributes to a nutrient-rich garden. If you find yourself with more food than you can consume, sharing with neighbours or donating to a food bank can be a wonderful way to ensure it doesn’t go to waste.

Chef’s tips on conscious cooking: Conscious cooking at home starts with sourcing local and seasonal produce to support local farmers and reduce transportation emissions. Gain an understanding of your ingredients' origins and the effort it takes to bring them to your table, which fosters a greater appreciation and encourages using them fully. Opt for energy-efficient cooking methods like pressure or slow cooking that are better for the environment and often retain more nutrients.



MICHELIN Guide Dubai 2023

Celebrating the flavours of the Mediterranean in a sustainable way, Green Star restaurant, Boca, dedicates itself to championing local produce as much as possible, reporting on their carbon emissions, incorporating renewable energy throughout the eatery, and proactively ensuring they reduce their food waste. Chef Patricia Roig believes that superficially throwing away ingredients contributes to the increase of energy needed in food production factories and waste facilities, which in turn has a big impact on the planet. “There are so many ingredients that we buy and, without touching, we throw away just because are ugly, expired or simply wilted. But are they really inedible?” she challenges.

Chef’s tip on minimising food waste: First of all, plan your shopping. If it is for home, buy what you are going to consume, so for fresh ingredients, it’s better to make smaller purchases more often than a big one so the food will be always fresh, and we won't need to discard anything. Second segregating organic from general waste is very helpful to see which are your food leftovers – once you have that clear it’s easier to find a purpose for them. You always need to think ahead and squeeze your head to see if the waste is suitable to use. Once you want to use leftovers, you need to plan what and when are you going to use it – it’s easy to leave trimmings lying around in the fridge until you cannot use it anymore, so they must be used straightaway.

Chef’s tip on conscious cooking: Cook more greens and beans and reduce the use of animal products. If some ingredients are organic even better. Be aware about the single use plastic – this needs to be avoided as much as possible when using containers or lids for conservation. In general, being conscious in the kitchen applies in same way that it does in other areas: base your practices within a sustainable ethos of reducing, reusing and recycling.

Illustration image: jchizhe/iStock

Sustainable Gastronomy

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