Hi Natasha! Could you tell us a little more about FeastFairly? How did you come up with the initiative?
One day, after service, I sat down with one of our volunteers, a man named Richard Murray: he’s the founder of a company called Foodchain. Richard and I were talking about the different initiatives offered by the Refettorio Felix and I said I was desperate to find a way to bring the conversation we are having with chefs at the Refettorio, back into their restaurants and kitchens and to engage diners in a conversation about both hunger and food waste. There’s a lot of discussion about minimizing waste within restaurants, a lot of chefs who are already engaged with cooking dishes that use kitchen-made surplus. One of these chefs is Chantelle Nicholson. Her and Richard have been in communication for a really long time about this and their idea was to develop a way for chefs to get agricultural surplus. By buying from farmers something that previously had no value, farmers get more revenues and chefs have lower costs, so they can donate that sort of value that has been created out of nothing to organizations like Refettorio Felix that are fighting hunger. It’s like finding a money tree in the middle of the field.
In which way do you connect farmers to restaurants?
Foodchain is a commercial company, they use an online app to connect chefs to farmers and food producers. So, when Richard and I started talking, we discussed the possibility of asking restaurants to design a zero-waste menu item and to donate 1 pound off of that menu item to the Refettorio Felix. One pound is the minimum, but some places have decided that they actually want to give more.
When did you launch the initiative?
We started talking to different restaurants and a chef named Douglas McMaster – who has the UK first zero-waste restaurant called Silo – came to the Refettorio and cooked an initial launch dinner on the 8th of April with Blair Hammond, co-chef at Silo. We invited chefs, food producers and different people in the industry. In May, we have about 20 restaurants that are participating in different ways, most of them have a dish on their menu that has a little note about FeastFairly. One restaurant called “The Good Egg Soho” is donating one pound off for every single table for the entire month. Other restaurants have already committed to joining the initiative in June. The idea of FeastFairly is that we are creating a more just food system for the farmers, for the chefs, for people in restaurants and, of course, for people who are experiencing hunger. They are all finding a way to use this food that previously had no value to make things more just.
This initiative is just in London or in the whole of the UK?
It’s just in London for now but we definitely want to grow it to be in the rest of the UK. The idea would be for each city to benefit a charity that is fighting hunger locally. And we’d love to have a website that has different stories, and eventually also shared information about how to cook with underutilized ingredients.
What is offered to the restaurants are not only essential goods like fruit and vegetables but also “luxury ingredients” like oysters and spider crab. What were the expectations of the restaurants in this case? They certainly didn’t expect to get a box of oysters…
They basically ordered it, they see what’s available on the app and also through specific FeastFairly emails. Richard sends out a blast: farmers or food producers or fishermen will send him a text when they get an unusual product that they would normally have to throw away and say “would any of the FeastFairly chefs be interested in using this?” so they can order in advance.
Thank you Natasha! For more informations about Feast Fairly visit the Instagram profile @feastfairly