Greig Young, head chef at The Northgate, in Bury St Edmunds, tells us how the humble carrot has become the symbol of his kitchen's waste and sustainability ethos
I am greatly looking forward to working with Culture and contributing my monthly column. I hope I can give you an insight into my priorities as a chef as well as how I want to lead my team in the kitchen.
Naturally, I will also try to inspire you with some seasonal dishes that we are serving at The Northgate, so I do hope you will pop in to see me – even if it is just for a chat.
Perhaps many of you will know that I am a true Celt and having learnt my trade in kitchens throughout Scotland – from Glasgow to the Highlands – I have always been wedded to the notion that dishes are borne from the land and sea and not created in a kitchen. This was further embedded in my early twenties when I worked in restaurants in Australia and especially when touring and working in New Zealand. The outdoor and natural landscape are an inspiration for chefs, and it is this core belief when working with my kitchen team that steers our work and menus.
There is no doubt that waste and sustainability are as equally important in any professional kitchen as it is in a household one – probably much more prevalent when there is pressure just to serve the best cut of meat or the freshest ingredient. However, with my team at The Northgate we must challenge ourselves (not our customers) to ensure we are working as responsibly as possible. Every cut of meat or vegetable peel must be used and re-used – I would say this is now a key part of the craft of professional cooking.
A great dish isn’t just about taste and flavour. What’s behind it? How did it get on the plate?
Like all the best Suffolk chefs, we use wonderful local ingredients and try to enhance them, but I will often start with this question to my suppliers – ‘What have you got?’ rather than ‘This is what I need’.
At The Northgate a simple vegetable has been a symbol of this belief – the garden carrot.
By giving a product a second life and including them in more than one stage of the cooking process, we have extended their kitchen life to ensure we maximise use before composting. The used coffee grounds from every coffee we serve are saved. These are then placed in a roasting dish with carrots buried within, then covered with tin foil and roasted for an hour at 140ºC.
They are great for Sunday lunch or the base for a savoury salad. You’ll find the carrots won’t taste of coffee but will have a real savoury flavour with much more personality.
Let me know what you think. . .
Greig Young is head chef at The Northgate, Northgate Street, Bury St Edmunds
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