Waste not! By Sasu Laukkonen

Sasu at Cook it raw. Photo: courtesy of Sasu Laukkonen

Waste is my favourite subject right now.

I buy and use organic/biodynamic or wild produce and also farm and forage myself so I may look at this a bit differently, but I need to say that quite a lot of no-waste action has opened a new page for us in our tiny kitchen. It is good to note that there are two kinds of waste: usable and non-usable. And two places where waste is created: on the farm and in the kitchen.

As chefs we need to develop awareness to maximize the amount used for preparing food from the produce that we buy. This is our business and revenue. And with vegetables without pesticides you can use everything for food.

At Chef & Sommelier we use almost everything of everything: roots, stalks, leaves, peels, kernels, trimmings, skins etc.

4-5 cooks create about 2 liters of biowaste per day in a restaurant where we cook for  24 to 40 guests per night and with an average of about 6 courses per person.

The entire celeriac. Photo: courtesy of Sasu Laukkonen

Celeriac has been a bit on the black list in Finland, and I don’t blame people for not liking the one that is availble in the normal stores. But for me it is definitely one of my favorite root vegetables.

Everything begins in January. I meet up with my farmer and we discuss seeds, timetables and produce. She grows the seedlings and they are in the soil by May. By the end of August it is time to be in contact again to doublecheck harvest estimates.

Usually by mid September it is time to harvest. I drive over, it takes 2 hours, and we start picking the celeriacs manually, with a showel. We bag them washed, whole and I drive back to the restaurant.

For 60 kilos of celeriac it takes 6 hours for a person to separate all the parts – leaves, stalks, bulbs and roots – to wash and scrub them ready for the next phase.

Leaves: We make oils, vinegars, salts, sauces and conserved in oil
Stalks: We make vinegars, we freeze them, we juice them
Bulb: multiple use of course, peels used with it or separately as well
Roots: Pickle, freeze, dry, roast, powder

Just to give some examples of what we do.

The no waste dish from the picture below was recently on our menu for 8 weeks and we called it “Celeriac and cheese”

Photo: courtesy of Sasu Laukkonen

Here is what we did:

  • Leaf-salt both dehydrated together at low temperature and blended to green when used
  • Leaves cut to julienne and conserved under oil
  • Stalk vinegar
  • Bulb peel and root dehydrated powder
  • Bulb strips, made with the CHIBA peel S machine that were pickled with the stalk vinegar and then cut to resemble tagliatelle

Then we melted a really good handmade finnish Vilho-cheese into hot cream for the sauce and served it like pasta.

I sincerely hope that whoever reads this finds this inspiring for a better future with less waste.

Sasu Laukkonen, Chef & Sommelier (Helsinki, Finland)

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