They will be joined by other restaurants, cafés and caterers across the capital in embracing offal and other unloved cuts of meat during Nose-to-Tail Fortnight, part of a campaign to encourage more thoughtful, less wasteful use of meat, organised by the Ethical Eats catering network.
The event builds on the success of last year’s popular London Honey Week - part of the London Honey Festival in September - where Ethical Eats helped restaurants to run menu specials using honey from London beekeepers.
This time around, participating eateries will be putting a special (or specials) on the menu featuring offal or another unloved cut, between 30 April and 14 May. Participating restaurants can even ‘go the whole hog’ and order a whole (or a half) a hog, or other beast, to test their creative cooking skills over the fortnight. There will be posters advertising the special dishes to customers, and the provenance of the meat, as well as a map of participating restaurants on the Ethical Eats website. Chefs and diners will be encouraged to share the good news by tweeting about their dishes and posting pictures.
“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 Sustain’s Duncan O’Brien, who coordinates 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.”
Head chef of Manson in West London, Alan Stewart, who is supporting the campaign, has been advocating nose-to-tail eating for some time. He explains, “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.”
The chefs in the kitchen at The People’s Supermarket in Camden, North London, Christophe Charbonnet and John Batho, are also supporting Nose-to-Tail Fortnight. “Christophe is never happier than when he's hacking up a pig’s head!” says John,” 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.”
A survey of consumer attitudes towards offal conducted by Ethical Eats and Nose-to-Tail campaign supporter The Jellied Eel magazine found that though half of Londoners had bought offal, with the most popular bits being liver, kidney, black pudding, tail and tongue, with the least popular being tripe, sweetbreads, brain and head. Over 60% had never eaten offal in a restaurant. The survey also found that 40% would eat more offal if it was on the menu in restaurants, and nearly 50% if it tasted better, highlighting the potential for restaurants to serve delicious nose-to-tail dishes and change diners’ attitudes.
“Exploring different foods and cuts makes eating that much more interesting,” says Duncan. “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.”
1. The participating London chefs, food experts and restaurants include:
· Dock Kitchen, an experimental kitchen in Ladbroke Grove, West London (www.dockkitchen.co.uk), run by top chef Stevie Parle
· Offal expert and internationally known food writer Anissa Helou (www.anissas.com)
· Food designers Blanch and Shock (www.blanchandshock.com), who design and cook using seasonal British ingredients and inspired by the technology of modern cookery
· The People’s Kitchen (www.thepeoplessupermarket.org/home/peoples-kitchen), part of The People’s Supermarket in Camden, North London
2. Nose-to-Tail Fortnight is part of a campaign to encourage more thoughtful, less wasteful meat use by the capital's restaurants. Ethical Eats has been speaking to high-volume and niche establishments about the issues they face when it comes to sourcing and preparing the meat we eat, exploring concerns about the environmental impact of animal farming and the international meat industry, and helping butchers and suppliers improve their trade.
3. The campaign was launched in March 2012 at a Nose-to-Tail Butchery and Cookery Workshop for London chefs, which drew a crowd ranging from the Michelin-starred through to final-year catering students. The chefs who attended were excited to experiment with whole-carcass butchery, and cooked Nose-to-Tail dishes, that included Cristiano Meneghin from Tongue n' Cheek restaurant’s ox-heart burger, and Palash Mitra from The Cinnamon Club restaurants 'Coorg-style' pork.
4. Ethical Eats is a network for restaurants and caterers across the capital interested in sustainability. It is part of the London Food Link network, part of the charity Sustain, and is funded by the Big Lottery’s Local Food Fund. www.ethicaleats.org and Twitter @ethicaleats
5. The Jellied Eel is a quarterly London magazine about ethical eating. It is produced by BIG Media and London Food Link, part of the charity Sustain. 20,000 copies of the free magazine are distributed via 130 outlets across London. www.jelliedeel.org/stockists and Twitter @thejelliedeel1.
6. The consumer attitudes to offal survey was completed using Toluna Quick online. www.tolunaquick.com/registerq?camp=sustainactivity