Reimagining food waste for an audience of savvy gastronomes demands serious creativity and resourcefulness. So it's a good thing the folk behind the inaugural Yume Hour have deployed some of our city's finest to take on the mission.
The March 5 event, part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, challenges some of the city's most creative chefs to plate up delicious dishes using food that would otherwise be wasted.
Fact: the Australian food service industry throws away 1.4 million tonnes of food every year. Food pros need only take a look into their bins at the end of service to get an accurate daily dose of our country's food waste reality.
But for the average restaurant diner, what's out of sight is usually also out of mind. Having to think about food waste and hungry homeless folks? Total mood-killer.
It's an issue that occupies the thoughts of Bomba chef Jesse Gerner. "For me it's shocking to know the number of people who go hungry in Australia every day, and at the same time we're throwing out about 38 per cent of the food we produce. It just seems like a flawed system."
Spend five minutes with Katy Barfield, self-proclaimed food waste warrior and the driving force behind Yume Hour, and the truth about the Aussie hospitality industry's food waste problem starts to sink in. A passionate campaigner for the war against waste, Barfield is all about stats, and the numbers are mind-blowing.
"Melbourne is a city of food lovers and home to some of the best food in the world. Staggeringly Australians send an incredible $8 billion worth of edible food to landfill each year."
Last year Barfield, the founding CEO of food rescue organisation SecondBite and creator of social wholesale fruit and vegie business Spade & Barrow, launched Yume (pronounced yoo-mi) to address the issue. The easy-to-use tool allows restaurants to either sell their surplus food to consumers for half price or donate it to local food rescue charities.
Yume Hour takes the idea a step further, getting chefs and diners to rethink what makes good food. On Saturday, March 5, between 3pm and 4pm diners can sample the upcycled culinary wares of some of Melbourne's best chefs.
Restaurants such as Bomba, St Crispin, Botherambo and San Telmo will be offering a limited number of crafty snacks for $1 each. Diners can claim the snacks using the Yume app.
At Bomba you'll find Gerner's jamon croquetas, made from porky offcuts, and Pastuso will be doing "pastel de choclo", a South American shepherd's pie filled with smoky slow-cooked pork neck and alpaca heart, topped with sweet corn and potato off-cut puree.
At St Crispin in Collingwood, Joe Grbac's salad of beetroot tops and bottoms, shaved carrot ends, roasted walnuts and celery juice may win over food waste naysayers, while sweet-tooths might want to hunt down Botherambo's kaffir lime and coriander root sorbet or Guy Grossi's cassata gelato made with surplus orange peel outside Grossi Florentino in Melbourne's Bourke Street.
To add to the warm and fuzzy mood, all funds raised during Yume Hour will be donated to Melbourne food rescue charities OzHarvest, FareShare, Foodbank and SecondBite.
Now there's one happy hour that won't leave you with a sore head and a string of regrets.