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Latest News: Plotting.

Exciting news from IDHQ this month. We are now the proud owners of an allotment. Yay!

We are not going to lie, we are very new to this. Although head chef, George, has been cooking for many years and use to spend time with his Grandmother in the garden we are far from green fingered! But…like a microcosm for the industry as a whole, we must do better and learn to be more sustainable and self sufficient. Luckily for us we have a few family members to help us along the way.

Why is it important to us?

When we look at the way food trends and lifestyles have changed post war in the UK the abundance of food we have now has made us nothing but lazy for living from the land and understanding and respecting food. We are very lucky that most of us have not had to suffer the hardship of rationing, we have supermarkets full of food to shop weekly and we do not have to preserve the seasonal food because if we want strawberries in December then they can be flow in from Morocco. Basically, we got rich and we got lazy.

We need to recapture the understanding of growing produce for the table that our grandparents had.

George, Head Chef

One of the joys about travelling is to taste the food and drink of the local land, in doing this you get an understanding of what that village or town represents, how they cook and eat is in the DNA of the people. What it can grow, what it can’t grow. You could maybe still say this about some towns in the UK, but rural Buckinghamshire, what does it taste of? That is what we are trying to find out, using local produce and growing our own.

So, we are starting small, got some beans, carrots and beetroot to set us off but we are looking forward to what we will learn to grow and serve up on a menu in the future.

We would love to hear any tips you have in the comments below.


Cooking responsibly and sustainably

The “Attenborough effect” is hitting all the headlines currently and you cannot go on social media much these days without seeing someone highlighting a supermarket’s use of unnecessary plastic. The food manufacturing sector is getting a bit of a bad rep at the moment but really they are just taking the flack for a whole sector that could do better.

Similarly to the manufacturing and food producers, the pressure from consumers to have the perfect product, as well as scrutiny from local health authorities, has led to the Hospitality and Food Sector to be responsible for 2.87 million tonnes of waste each year. Of this waste, 1.6 millions tonnes is packaging, of which 46% is recycled*. A lot of this can be down to local councils and systems outside the control of outlets, but with only 12% of food waste being recycled there certainly seems to be a problem, especially when you consider that 45% of food waste is from preparation.

A bit of background…

Having worked in the hospitality sector since the early 00’s everything we were taught was about “the customer experience”, which is fair. So when it came down to food, working for an international hotel chain in the restaurant, it was all about ensuring the customer at 6am and the customer at 11am had the exact same offering. The waste was UNREAL. Just think that this was going on throughout every hotel of this brand (and probably others) all over the world, EVERY DAY.

Since then, moving away from hotels and into restaurants, there is a lot less food waste, but still the same focus on customer experience, which creates a different kind of waste. Chain restaurants, with their obsession for brand standards and economies of scale, lead to products being pre-prepared and provided as part of a single, massive contract with a national producer, before being distributed up and down the country rather than working with local, less travelled products.

All of this is on top of strict quality control measures enforced by local environmental health officers, who despite having stringent guidelines for us all to follow in order to serve safe food, take no responsibility in ensuring food waste is controlled. A time for a change on this perhaps? Wouldn’t it be great to see a similar star system to acknowledge responsible food production, as well as being safe for consumption?

What we are doing…

At Inspires Dining we are passionate about reducing our impact on the planet and operating responsibly.

With this in mind we have worked with Richard Lewis from WasteLESS Consulting to review our processes and take a close look at what we are doing well and where we can do better.

The highlights from the review where we are already making positive steps were:

  • Buying locally from independent suppliers, enabling us to purchase packet free
  • Creating food menus that produce little waste or waste that can be used in another way
  • Where food waste is unavoidable, we compost as much as we can
  • Using environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals
  • Utilising re-usable cloths and linen including napkins made from scrap material

See the full review on our sustainability page 

* data from WRAP (Waste Resource Action Programme) http://www.wrap.org.uk/food-drink/business-food-waste/hospitality-food-service