WastED: Reinventing Rubbish

Opening a restaurant isn’t easy. Make it a pop-up on Selfridges’ rooftop, serving dishes made from ingredients which would otherwise be binned, and you’ve got yourself a challenge. This is exactly what chef Dan Barber took on, and knocked out of the park earlier this year. The concept in Barber’s usual New York stomping ground Blue Hill is much the same, and he wanted to share this thought-provoking movement with us Londoners.

My girlfriend Hils and I are fizz-ready, and Selfridges’ house champs is Henri Giraud, which thankfully isn’t made from waste. One of the chefs energetically fills us in on the scoop, some of which honestly sounds questionable; enter stale ale bread, bone charcoal and blood crepe, for example. With all dishes at £15, there’s no faffing around, and open-mindedly, we dive on in.

We dip forgotten cauliflower stalks into a Baba Ghanoush-type salsa and I could take down a whole plate of the protein-loaded crispy fish skin bites. Fortunately, tuna bloodline vinaigrette isn’t offensive with lettuce butts, which come loaded up with more crispy fish bits and broccoli stems have lashings of beef-end crumble, because they can.

Let’s be clear, cod head (yes, a cod’s head on a baking tray) kedgeree is not for the faint hearted; poor Hils nearly falls off the chair when it arrives. However it’s a diamond in the rough and once we get into the juicy cheeks, we’re laughing. A side of nutty, almost buckwheatey, bran and rye ‘broken rice’ is so good we have a hankering for another little pot of it.

Dish of the day is an easy call, we’re talking spiralised veg cores, which translate as the middle bit of the veggies which gets spat out by the old courgetti maker. This is underselling and overdelivering if I’ve ever seen it.

WastED dinners were sold out for months in advance, as guest chefs like Koffman and Atherton jumped behind the stoves to offer up their take on the approach; lucky me for nabbing one of the lunch tables. Barber rocks farm to table, but not as we know it, and it’s anything but rubbish.

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Five Very Kerri Things About WastED

  1. A powerful way to have a positive impact on the world
  2. All of the nibbles
  3. My girl Hils' company
  4. Stem-to-root, and everything in between
  5. The game-changing approach to entertaining