Brighton will soon be home to Britain’s first zero waste restaurant. Called Silo, it will be a restaurant, bakery and coffee house that can seat 50, run by pioneering chef Douglas McMaster out of an old warehouse.
The key to zero waste is to plan dishes backwards, working from the bin back to the table. That means seasonal food that can be sourced without packaging from local farmers, transported in re-useable crates. It involves growing your own mushrooms, foraging for wild foods, and using every part of the animal when cooking with meat. The restaurant will use few processed foods and produce as much as possible on site, including milling their own flour, churning their own butter, brewing their own vinegar, and creating their own chocolate from cocoa beans. McMaster refers to this as a ‘pre-industrial’ approach, stripping away the processing and working with the raw elements of food whenever possible.
While the food is simple, there are some high tech solutions too. Cleaning products are a big source of waste, and Silo will get around the problem of chemicals and plastic bottles by making its own electrolysed oxidised water on site. Using a machine designed for medical applications, ordinary tap water will be turned into 100% non-toxic cleaner and sterilizer.
There’s also the small matter of a £22,000 industrial compost making machine on site, into which all food scraps will go. It’s the first time a compost machine has been used in a commercial kitchen in Britain. The idea has been tested by McMaster himself on a smaller scale at Wasted, his pop-up restaurant in Sydney.
The building will steward resources well too. Toilets are flushed with waste water from the kitchen and coffee machines, recycled materials will be used in the interior, and solar panels on the roof provide electricity.
Silo opens in September, and McMaster hopes that it will demonstrate some new waste strategies that other restaurants will want to use in future. It could also steal the ‘most sustainable restaurant‘ title, currently held by Ode in Devon. If it does, it will make Brighton home to both Britain’s most sustainable restaurant and pub, the latter being Preston Park Tavern, a mile or so down the road from Silo.