Waste Not, Want Not – Chef Tisdale-Downs Champions Zero-Waste Cooking

Menuwatch: Native

Chef Ivan Tisdale-Downs is making use of every scrap of British produce at Native’s new spacious site.

Chefs naturally want to make the most of every ingredient. After all, it’s good for gross profit as well as a sustainable way of operating. But at Native, Ivan Tisdale-Downs is trying to take zero-waste to new heights.

Native moved from a 25-cover site to a new, spacious 60-cover converted studio close to London Bridge in June, chef Tisdale-Downs and fellow founder Imogen Davis now have the space to showcase their take on foraged British produce and seasonal game.

The move was funded by a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign, which reached its £50,000 target on the day of opening and helped pay the 12-strong team while the restaurant wasn’t trading.

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Native’s menu is designed to demonstrate Tisdale-Downs’ wild food philosophy and respect for using every scrap of product. Guests can choose from an à la carte, a three-course option for £46 or a £70 tasting menu.

All meals begin with ‘chefs’ wasting snacks’, appetisers that the restaurant says “many would consider waste, but to us are products in their own right”.

Ivan Tisdale-Downs and Imogen Davis
Ivan Tisdale-Downs and Imogen Davis

Tisdale-Downs adds: “It’s not all directly waste, but we’re helping our suppliers get rid of products they struggle to shift that might become their waste too.”

The dishes also give the seven-strong brigade a chance to experiment, with chefs encouraged to create dishes that they then serve to the diner themselves.

One stand-out snack is the ox heart bao, with the main ingredient coming from Northfield Farm’s shop in nearby Borough Market. The heart is brined for a week and smoked over organic applewood. “The public rarely has offal, so we take it off our butcher at a great price,” says Tisdale-Downs. “It’s a challenge for us to come up with things to do with them.”

Ox heart bao
Ox heart bao

As the focus is on freshness and foraging, the menu is strictly seasonal with a skeleton for each month that features whatever foraged herbs, cuts of meat and fish are available.

“If I had a restaurant where I could cook what I wanted, I probably wouldn’t be half as creative. It’s the limitations that make you think out of the box,” the chef says.

From the starters, foraged mushrooms with confit egg yolk, reindeer moss and sourdough cracker sum up what Native is about. The mushrooms are cured before being cooked in oil and aromats at 80°C.

“Reindeer moss is actually a lichen, and we fry it for a bit of texture,” he explains. Served with sourdough crackers on top, the dish is designed to look like an autumn forest floor.

Foraged mushrooms, confit egg yolk, reindeer moss, sourdough cracker
Foraged mushrooms, confit egg yolk, reindeer moss, sourdough cracker

During the summer, Native tends to use mainly rare-breed meats, but when 12 August hits, grouse comes on the menu, followed by venison and other game.

Autumnal main courses this year include wild mallard and Sutton Farm squash paired with pickled kohlrabi and walnut granola, as well as South Downs venison, yeasted onion purée, wild mushroom and summer truffle.

“It’s a bit like trying to make fried chicken but with a mushroom – we dip it in a dashi, roll it in pea flour and deep-fry it. We serve it with a bit of the last of the summer truffles, which we sourced in Essex,” explains Tisdale-Downs.

“We keep a close eye on gross profit, so if we can elevate something like an onion purée, it means we can use a little truffle.”

Desserts include bites such as the popular marrowmel, which takes the form of caramelised white chocolate ganache made using bone marrow instead of butter. Serving the white chocolate sitting on top of the bone – minus its marrow – at the end of the meal means that a use is found for even the most innocuous surplus in this restaurant where nothing is wasted.

Marrowmel
Marrowmel

From the menu

Starters

Chalk Stream trout, cucumber, fish bone caramel, samphire, whey

Western rose veal ragù, celeriac lasagne, Lincolnshire Poacher cheese, pickled walnut

Dorset mackerel, salt-baked beets, rhubarb ketchup, hay cream

Mains

Wild mallard, Sutton Farm squash, pickled kohlrabi, walnut granola

Hogseed vadouvan, carrot and tempura tops, hay ash honey, dukkah

South Downs venison, yeasted onion purée, wild mushroom, summer truffle

Desserts

Sea buckthorn and carrot curd, whipped cream cheese, rye crumb

Hay cream, Kentish raspberries, basil, English chai seed sable

Hay cream and Kentish raspberries

https://www.thecaterer.com/articles/541613/menuwatch-native