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RESTAURANTS + FOOD
"Hemsley eect" - that is, sisters Jasmine
and Melissa selling 140,000 copies of their
book �e Art of Eating Well in 2015 - made
it acceptable to "spiralise" courgettes.
Nutritionist Rob Hobson believes this
shift towards healthier eating means that
root-to-stem could go mainstream.
Hobson notes the "huge increase" in
plant-based and vegan diets, "and it sits
within that. As it was taking o in the US,
I thought it was something that could get
picked up here - even though, really, chefs
have done this forever." He continues, "I
saw pop-ups starting to adopt root-tostem,
and this chef Tara Duggan, who was
doing lots of adventurous stu, pickling
beetroot roots to make chutneys, using
carrot tops to make pesto and watermelon
rind to make pickles."
On the whole it's great, believes
Hobson, "not necessarily from a
nutritional perspective but because we
all waste too much food". But he accepts
that "you've got to be into cooking to do
[it]… I do to a degree, and I would save my
butternut squash seeds or put green stalks
in my juicer - but I'd have to be motivated
to make watermelon rind pickle".
"Root-to-stem throws up useful discussion
points around food waste," states Jackson
Boxer, chef at Brunswick House, but
there's also an argument for not polishing
o entire vegetables: "Someone like Dan
Barber [the New York chef-activist] has
been inuential in reconsidering how
wasteful our assumptions about cuisine
are… but what I found was that you go
to an enormous amount of work - a lot of
braising and processing - to make, say,
the spine of a kale leaf edible. So is this
actually an eective use of energy?"
Instead, Boxer wants more restaurants
to understand composting as "there is a
huge amount that restaurants can feed
back into the food chain". Indeed, soon his
team will begin sending kitchen vegetable
waste to their farmer in
Dan Cox is executive
head chef at Simon
Rogan's restaurant Fera at
Claridge's and the person
responsible for starting
the Cumbrian farm that's
attached to Rogan's
L'Enclume restaurant. He explains that
his kitchen team aim to incorporate
"everything we can into dishes… because
if you've grown your vegetables, especially
in a natural, considered way, you don't
want to waste them."
While root-to-stem is the obvious
choice for some, there is plenty of
discussion still to be had before we see
watermelon rind pickle as a menu staple.
COMING SOON TO
A PLATE NEAR YOU...
Broad bean tops - served with
butterbean hummus, anchovies
Poco in Broadway Market
Potato leaf crackers - served with
tarama and salmon roe
Mirror Room at the Rosewood London
Alexander buds - with soft roasted
fennel, crunchy pear and apple
Turnip and tops - served with
caramelised cabbage and roast
chicory with dill
Fera at Claridge's
Chervil root - served with duck,
rhubarb and black cabbage
part of an animal, and others rmly
believing that vegetable leftovers are not
all worth eating.
According to various luminaries of
London's restaurant scene, cooking all
parts of a vegetable is something chefs
have always done. For Alexis Gauthier,
chef-patron of Gauthier Soho, "the rootto-stem
phenomenon has been happening
for years but has just never had a name".
He looks back to Alice Waters at Chez
Panisse in California, or the River Café in
1989. "ey would serve a tomato just as
it was, because it was the best way to use
the product," he explains. "And at Eleven
Madison Park in New York, a famous
dish is tartare of carrot, where they grind
the entire carrot in front of you, which
encapsulates the root-to-stem spirit. So for
me it's nothing new, but it's nice that more
people are looking into it. It's sure to get
bigger," he adds.
TASTE OR TRASH?
Other London chefs say that innovative
ways to use up vegetables both celebrates
what they have and keeps waste levels low.
For Bruno Loubet, these principles have
guided him since opening Grain Store in
2013. He uses cherry owers in syrups
and salads, as well as salting and adding
vinegar to green elderberry buds.
At Rosewood London's
Mirror Room, executive
chef Amandine Chaignot
tries to use the whole
vegetable "whether in the
dish itself or as decorative
accents", and turns turnip
peelings into powders.
And Chick 'n' Sours
chef-owner Carl Clarke ferments kohlrabi
tops for kimchi because "I was inspired
by Jack Stein [executive chef of Stein
Restaurants] who creates 'trash kimchi'
out of trimmings… It doesn't always work,
but at least we've tried!"
e recent interest in root-to-stem may
well be down to London's clean-eating
brigade, which has shaken up the options
for serving vegetables. For example, the
"WE INCORPORATE EVERYTHING WE
CAN INTO DISHES… BECAUSE IF YOU'VE
GROWN VEGETABLES YOU DON'T WANT
TO WASTE THEM" DAN COX