People always try to make the most of what they buy so food shouldn’t be any different, especially ingredients coming into your kitchen everyday.
Making use of the entire produce is not as difﬁcult as it may seem; us, chefs, do it on a daily basis to a certain extent, it is in our nature to save the peelings for stock, or gathering heals and crusts of bread crumbs for bread and butter pudding.
Nowadays, more and more chefs are coming up with ingenious ways to make the most of food byproducts using modern techniques but for me, the old approaches are the best; the way people did it hundreds of years ago, preserving their food with methods such as drying or dehydrating, pickling, fermenting, curing and smoking, all great ways to keep food in the pantry for longer periods of time but also because each method develops its own unique ﬂavour, and are techniques we use every week on what is left after the core of a product is used.
In a commercial and modern kitchen environment, this is also a great way to keep the team engaged and motivated, while keeping the old cooking techniques alive. When I look at trimmings, leaves and byproducts from fresh produce, I see many another ingredients to use in the kitchen, and I get as excited about that as I do about the core of the product.
Imagination and the willingness to give something new a shot are great tools when you look at turnip leaves and stalks, salmon skin and belly, pineapple core and many other peelings in waste tubs around the kitchen, in each chefs sections, after an hour of mise en place.
To come up with a dish that's star components are bits of food that would normally go in the bin, needs some imagination and it is a fantastic challenge for chefs of all levels, in any kitchen. For instance, we’ve done a pop up dinner in the ofﬁce which coincided with Earth Day, so we used some of our Airbnb experience hosts’ products but the core of the menu was developed around by-products.
We’ve designed a menu were 65% of the dishes was made of components that would normally go into the bin; we served plated starters, family style main courses and plated desserts, all served on our normal lunch plates and bowls to show our guests that it is something anyone can do at home - and most wouldn’t even think that the dishes were primarily made from by-products.
Selection of crispy vegetable skins Swiss chard stalk hummus, creamy cheese rind dip
Turnip leaf dolmas
Crispy salmon skin, salmon belly bonito, Oriel Teelings smoked salt, Mungo Murphy's sea lettuce, fermented pear, pineapple skin molasses
Homemade Dunlavin milk ricotta
Apple syrup made from apple skins & cores, beetroot pickled broccoli stem, whey emulsion, avocado stone serundeng
Misunderstood Scrag end of lamb tagine
Preserved lemon peel, broccoli & cauliﬂower stem couscous, celeriac leaf tabouli, hive mind honey
Crackling, mushroom stem stuffed thighs, braised drumsticks, pan seared breast, devilled livers, parsley stalk & caper dressing, chicken fat conﬁt cabbage stems, roasted chicken bone & giblet jus
Mungo Murphy's sea spaghetti
Cooked in a vegetable trimmings nage, dried bruised tomato, olives, celery leaf pesto, carrot top marmalade
- Cauliﬂower leaf sauerkraut
- Salad of vegetable leaves & trimmings with our own toasted squash seeds
Leftover bread pudding
Whey sorbet, parsnip skin sauce angles, overripe banana tuile, green apple skin sherbet
Parmesan rind ice cream
Caramelised coffee grinds, charred pineapple core, fermented pineapple skin
The menu was a reﬂection of what we do at Airbnb on a daily basis like making cider vinegar from apple skins and cores, extracting the pectin and sugar from the skins to get something like a fruity sweet honey; making teas and pineapple molasses from the skins and core of pineapples, after the ﬂesh has been used on our breakfast - the pineapple molasses is very similar to the best know pomegranate version and it would be extremely hard to tell the difference in a blind taste test.
When we make our own cheese we use the whey as bases for soups and sauces, sorbets and even into delicious drinks in our in-house drinks programme; when we make yogurt we use the acid whey for pickling.
The pineapple skins, salmon skin and belly all mentioned above made one of my starters, the Turnip leaf dolmas - crispy salmon skin, salmon belly bonito, Oriel Teelings smoked salt, Mungo Murphy's sea lettuce, fermented pear, pineapple skin molasses.
As part of the Earth day theme I used Oriel’s salt smoked with Teelings old oak barrels - used to age the whiskey - to season the crispy salmon skin in the dolmas, a great story of circular living and zero waste to add to the menu.
We also used sea lettuce from Mango Murphy, who is an Airbnb experience host; the dish balanced out really well with the saltiness from the salmon skin, sweet and acidic pineapple molasses, fermented overripe pear and the smokey salty salmon belly bonito style.
In the old days nothing went to waste and I can see a resurgence of this in recent years; my time in Brazil taught me to make the most of what I had available to me as I couldn’t get many ingredients that we, European chefs, take for granted.
There, I’ve started to make my own bacon, curing and fermenting my ingredients, and I can see the same happening here now, with many chefs committed to using everything that comes into their kitchens, what is not only good ethos but something really interesting and exciting to do while pushing to achieve the 75% GP and minimising food waste, not to mention the feeling of satisfaction that we get doing something that might seem so small that makes such a huge difference to the world.
About the Author: Maurice McGeehan
With over 20 years’ national and international experience, and currently Corporate Executive Chef for Airbnb EMEA headquarters in Dublin, Maurice spent the early part of his career working in Ireland before moving to London where he had the opportunity to experience everything from Michelin to cuisines from all around the world, working with chefs with different backgrounds and styles of food.
Maurice received a scholarship from the Compass group and completed his BSC degree in international culinary arts from Thames Valley University in 2006 and, after 8 years in the UK, and, Maurice opened his own Irish restaurant in Brazil, were he offered contemporary Irish and Brazilian dishes using local produce and bringing European techniques to Brazilian ingredients. Here Maurice learned how to make the most of what was around him by using every part of the product, something that he has brought back to Ireland with him
As the Executive Chef for Airbnb, Maurice created a food programme based in authentic and healthy food, where everything is made in-house, sourced from sustainable producers and suppliers, seasonal and as much as possible sourced from within our own Irish shores, utilising modern techniques, concepts, new combinations of ingredients to create menus that reflect the different cultures of the workforce in the office.