The nose-to-tail approach to food has long been heralded for carnivorous eating, but less has been made of the vegetable equivalent root-to-leaf. Alice Gilsenan, founder of Tiny Leaf, is on a mission to change that, as she explains in the film above.
It’s a straightforward concept: only use produce that would otherwise be thrown away, and use the whole thing at that; no peel, pip or rind left behind with anything that can’t be used then turned into compost. It’s an approach that made them London’s first restaurant to go zero waste and one that was celebrated for its clever combinations.
There’s an ingenuity and passion behind the business that looks to a more positive approach within the food and drink industry. “The concept of zero waste, vegan and vegetarian food works on many different levels and the type of audience craving it is growing all the time,” Alice explains.
First occupying a pop-up space on Notting Hill’s Westbourne Park Road at the start of 2016, Tiny Leaf relocated to Elephant and Castle at the street food market Mercato Metropolitano, where they were based until last year.
Alice has since moved on to focus on events while they look for a permanent home, “We’re much more effective as a brand when out of the road actively engaging with people about sustainability and sustainable food choices,” she says, “we can control our waste and menus and talk to people in the right way about what we’re trying to do.”
From immersive dining experiences in converted laboratories to charity galas with three courses, Alice encourages her clients to design their own menus by considering what’s seasonal and local and how they can use the whole of the vegetable. Which is something we can all be thinking about.
With an estimated 61% of the 7.3m tonnes of food we waste at home deemed edible, it’s up to the consumer to be more aware of what and how they’re shopping. Alice’s tips for minimising waste are simple: “Before you even think about purchasing any food, ask yourself if you’re shopping on a full or empty stomach.” Simple but proven to reduce waste: shopping when hungry makes us more likely to buy on impulse.
“Keeping a diary for a week to see how much goes in the bin also helps you to understand and change your habits. Tapping into technology is a huge help, with so many apps out there to help reduce waste, sharing apps like, Olio, where surplus food/cleaning products/anything can be snapped, shared and swapped.”
The spirit of collectivism and shared endeavour is infectious and Alice has big dreams for what’s next, looking at potential new spaces for Tiny Leaf and thinking about ways to make it power itself. It’s a future where restaurants can serve food solely produced on site and fuelled by leftovers.
For more information about the Tiny Leaf ethos and their events, visit www.tinyleaflondon.com
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