Waste not, want not with Marcus Wareing
Many know Michelin star chef Marcus Wareing best for his measured – often tough – critique on Masterchef: The Professionals, delivered with those unnervingly steely blue eyes and leaving experienced chefs wishing they’d never dared serve the acclaimed restaurateur a panna cotta without the correct amount of wobble.
The 49-year-old has spent five years on the BBC show – an appointment he says has been his career highlight – with Gregg Wallace and Monica Galetti. He’s also just released his seventh book, runs three restaurants and, right now, he’s fired up about waste.
He said: “I cannot believe the amount of plastic waste we throw away as a family because of supermarkets. It’s insane. It drives me crazy. We have a massive, massive issue here and it really needs stopping and stamping out.”
He finds kitchen food waste just as intolerable – and there’s as little as possible of it in the Wareing household – an issue he’s tackling in his new cookbook, Marcus Everyday.
“I hate waste. My father is a fruit and potato merchant, we never threw anything away,” he explained.
“As a chef, you’re taught to look at produce, to nurture it, to store it well, and you don’t throw things away. That’s been ingrained in me.”
Marcus says he and his wife Jane talk about it all the time – about how best to avoid waste and what they can use up at home. He said: “We don’t have money to waste and I’m certain a lot of people out there in the world don’t. So don’t waste your food.”
His new recipes for less food waste include Tuscan-style panzanella, frittata with piquant fruit chutney and sticky banana pudding with rosemary.
Even past-its-best milk doesn’t need to be chucked; that’s right, you can turn it into homemade ricotta (with a radicchio, orange and dill salad). “It’s not dangerous,” Marcus assured. “It’s simple and straightforward.”
He acknowledged: “It’s easy for me to say because I’m a chef, and it’s something I’m used to.
“But I want to reflect on the importance of what we purchase when we go out shopping.
“Don’t shop when you’re hungry, because you buy more food than you need and you’ll buy food to eat straight away. Look in your fridge before you go, write down what you’ve got. Preserve things, freeze things.
“If you do a good shop once a week or once a fortnight, and you’ve bought things with a bit of thought, you’ll always find something to eat.”
The new book is made up of chapters that might surprise – one going against the recipe book grain with dishes for two, four or six-plus people, and aimed squarely at those cooking only for themselves.
“Cooking for yourself is a kind of self-care,” he explained. “Like going to the hairdressers or buying yourself a new pair of shoes.”