Zero-waste czarinas

Zero-waste czarinas

This Women’s Day let’s doff our hats to women foodpreneurs who are following a low carbon footprint approach to food, writes Neeta Lal

Kritika Bisht,Commis Chef,AnnaMaya

Chefs are often deeply inspired and influenced by their environments. Many are increasingly taking pride in using responsibly-sourced ingredients while employing zero-waste practices and sustainable cooking methods. And there are plenty of such women eco-chefs, or green warriors out there who are quietly leading a revolution of sorts in commercial kitchens/restaurants with their low carbon-footprint approach to food.

Some of these change-makers also work closely with farmers to empower them while bringing organic, local ingredients together along with community engagement and environmental stewardship. Projections of a burgeoning population, coupled with climate change, offer an increasingly ominous picture of the state of the world’s food security in the not-too-distant future. Achieving a sustainable food system thus requires foodpreneurs to step forward as innovators to find solutions. And what better occasion than International Women’s Day to doff our hats to these ingenious souls?

Kritika Bisht, Commis Chef,

AnnaMaya – the 24x7 European Food Hall at Andaz, Delhi hews to the motto of ‘Eat Mindful. Shop Artisanal. Raise Awareness’. Following the ‘Made in India’ concept, it uses products manufactured in India and with a socially inspiring story behind the business execution. The manufacturers’ current business module must also be socially relevant to help communities and their environments within India.

According to Kritika Bisht, Commis Chef, AnnaMaya, one of the key sustainable practices she follows involves growing her own micro greens so that guests can enjoy zero mile greens at their freshest. “They are referred to as zero mile greens because they are grown in coconut coir instead of soil, and consume just a minimum amount of water. We have installed specially designed temperature controlled cabinets that function as an indoor green house.” Bisht also believes in promoting and sourcing sustainable and organic produce and ingredients from local artisans. While getting artisanal produce from villages across India, the restaurant has empowered thousands of rural women to find meaningful livelihoods,” says the chef.

Chef Vanshika Bhatia
Chef Vanshika Bhatia

Vanshika Bhatia, owner-chef Together at 12th restaurant, Le Meridien Gurgaon

The young chef is proud that sustainability has been one of her kitchen’s core values, be it in the bar, kitchen or interiors. “We have tried to keep all our ingredients locally sourced to support local farmers. For instance, we have an ‘Upcycled Lemonade’ and an ‘Upcycled Doppio Agnolotti’ in our menu. Both of these are made with things that are discarded by bars and kitchens. The lemonade is a syrup made with the chopping board waste of the bartenders, i.e. citrus peels, fruit pulp etc. The pasta has a filling that comprises ingredients like broccoli, cauliflower and spinach stems, carrot shavings etc. We also recycle produce like jute leaves, kesari saag, carrot leaves, shinguki etc and different grains to promote biodiversity. Even our restaurant’s decor consists of edible plants which can then be used by our kitchen/bar for food and drinks.”

Radhika Khandelwal
Radhika Khandelwal

Radhika Khandelwal Chef-Owner Fig & Maple and Ivy & Bean

Beginning her culinary career in 2008 in Melbourne, Khandelwal’s initial years in Australia shaped her culinary beliefs of local, sustainable and seasonal cooking, giving her an opportunity to lead the conversation on these practices in Delhi/NCR. 

Khandelwal opened doors to Ivy & Bean in 2013 and her second restaurant, Fig & Maple, in 2016, which further translated her culinary thought process on to the plate. “For a zero waste kitchen, we revise recipes on our menu with ingredients that many would consider food scraps or waste. We have replaced all mayonnaise varieties with a spread made out of jackfruit seeds and a relish made out of watermelon rind. We actively revive native and forgotten ingredients and processes. For instance we use the traditional sil-batta instead of a blender for multiple chutneys, relishes and pestos and incorporate ingredients like kaji nemu, moringa, bamboo rice, chingri huli red rice, turkey berry, sil timur in our dishes.”

Lakshmi Dasaka, co-founder & COO, SLAY Coffee

The entrepreneur takes pride in changing the way India drinks coffee by making the gourmet version accessible through innovation in packaging, supply chain, technology and distribution formats. “Our packaging is reusable, and customers have been re-purposing the Slay cases. We also plan to introduce the take back system by the end of Q2 2020, where we will collect the Slay cases back to re-purpose/recycle.”

The workspace of every Slay kitchen is 50 sq feet–tested and optimised for reducing the carbon footprint by whittling down intake of electricity, lighting, and water. Slay outlets are supplied with freshly roasted coffee beans every week. “We are mindful of the remarkable footprint that coffee has and see to it that nothing is wasted — beans beyond 28-days of roasting are sold to other vendors in the market,” she says.

Chef Reep Lepcha
Chef Reep Lepcha

Chef Reep Lepcha
Conrad Bengaluru

The hotel has initiated a ‘chefs’ garden’ concept that promotes the use of fresh organic herbs freshly plucked in front of the guest for garnishing or to be infused in detox beverages. “We’re also in the process of converting charcoal-operated tandoors to gas operated ones in an effort to reduce smoke emissions,” says Lepcha. Inspired by the motto ; ‘think local’, the hotel’s team of chefs regularly scours local farms/markets to source the best seasonal produce. The buffet spread is curated in a manner to ensure zero wastage of vegetables or meats. To boost sustainable cooking practices, a whole salmon is used in a steak, the trimmings are used to make a mousse, the skin for a garnish, and bones in the stock.

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