A celebration of un-loved cuts of meat will take place in restaurants across London during May's ‘Nose to Tail Fortnight' as part of a campaign to encourage less waste and more thoughtfulness when it comes to the meat industry.
The event has been organised by the Ethical Eats catering network and will see a host of specials go on the menus of participating restaurants featuring offal and other underused parts of the animal.
Over 30 restaurants across the capital are currently signed up, including Mason restaurant in Fulham. Head chef, Alan Stewart, says the campaign has an important message, ‘It's important to have respect for your ingredients, especially meat,' he says, ‘if you're going to kill an animal you have to use as much of it as possible and ensure there's no unnecessary wastage. As lamb is in season, we're serving lamb sweetbreads with pearl barley and wild garlic as a starter, and turning the leg meat into a confit, which we serve braised shoulder, roast loin and crispy breast for a main course.'
Other chefs backing the fortnight include Christophe Charbonnet and John Batho, from The People's Supermarket in Camden. ‘Christophe is never happier than when he's hacking up a pig's head,' says John Batho, ‘so we're really keen to get involved in this event. We are very tuned in to keeping food waste to a minimum, and already cook dishes such as chicken liver pâté, which sells out faster than we can make it, and slow-braised neck of pork, so it is perfect for us.'
At the launch day back in March, a butchery and workshop gave some insight as to what customers can expect. They included an ‘ox heart burger' (pictured below) produced by Cristiano Meneghin from Tongue n' Cheek restaurant, and ‘Coorg style pork' from Palash Mitra of the Cinnamon Club.
‘The nose-to-tail campaign helps chefs to think about meat in a more complete way, encourages them to learn the necessary butchery and cooking skills, and prompts them to use the whole animal so that less food is wasted,' said Duncan O'Brien from Sustain; the alliance for better food and farming, who is coordinating the campaign. ‘We're here to give advice on suppliers, butchers, animal welfare, and can even offer some recipe inspiration, to help restaurants make it happen.'
Statistics compiled by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs suggest that the UK wasted 7 million tonnes of food in 2009. Globally around a third of food produced for human consumption is wasted.
A recent survey by Jellied Eel magazine suggests consumers are not as picky about their meat as they are often portrayed. The results showed half of Londoners polled had brought offal, most commonly liver, kidneys and black pudding. But over 60 per cent had never eaten offal in a restaurant, despite nearly half those question saying they would buy it, if it appeared on restaurant menus more frequently.
‘Exploring different foods and cuts makes eating that much more interesting,' continues O'Brien. ‘Everybody also hates to see good food go to waste, and we know nose-to-tail eating makes more sense. Through this campaign, we'd love to reintroduce Londoners to cuts of meat and dishes that their grandparents loved to eat, and top chefs to the vast array of delicious recipes that use the whole animal, from nose to tail.'
Nose-to-Tail fortnight runs from 30th April for two weeks until the 14th May. An online map is available on the Ethical Eats website to help guide customers to participating restaurants. Patrons are also being encouraged to tweet photos of their meals and report back any taste revelations and new favourites.
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