Save Money (And The Planet) With Food Rescue Kitchen

Want to find out to save money, help save the planet, and cook like a boss? Tune into Food Rescue Kitchen – a new series launching on Three/Three Now at 7pm on Saturday April 27.

In the innovative food show, host Naomi Toilalo sources ingredients that might otherwise have gone into the bin and challenges top chefs to turn them into restaurant-quality meals for their communities – in limited time! It’s fun, entertaining – and has a great kaupapa.

Some of what Naomi discovers is deemed waste will make your hair curl. Pallets of mushrooms that can’t be sold because their stems are too long. Leeks that are too big. And 5000 kilos of overordered imported grapes that were about to be sent to landfill.

Chef Peter Gordon’s challenge is to make a three-course meal using unsold bakery goods and fish frames. Kasey and Kārena Bird get rescued venison mince and gleaned fruit. And Michael Van de Elzen gets frozen rescued chicken and rescued grapes that have been turned into raisins.

Food waste heroes
The series also features inspiring food rescue champions including a chef who is “upcycling” Aotearoa’s biggest food waste product bread – by dehydrating it and turning it back into flour! And a Napier fisherman who has created a trawling cage that releases undersized fish on the ocean floor, and the charity Kai Ika, which collects fish heads and frames that would usually get dumped overboard.

Episode four

Airing Saturday, May 18, episode four stars London-based Kiwi chef Chantelle Nicholson (pictured above left with Naomi) who is relatively unknown in Aotearoa but is a star in the UK where she has been awarded a Michelin Green Star for her sustainable practises, and appeared on Celebrity MasterChef.

Food Rescue Kitchen’s host – Naomi Toilalo – who wrote the bilingual cookbook WhānauKai and something of a foodie influencer – describes some of the kitchen innovations and food rescue ideas as mind-blowing.

Chantelle uses every scrap of rescued cauliflowers by cooking them four different ways. Peter uses multiple baked goods – including iced buns and biscuits – for a bread and butter pudding. And Park Hyatt chef Brent Martin’s team uses capsicum seeds to thicken soup, and rice bubbles as a panko crumb.

But it’s some of the simple and seemingly obvious tips shared over the series that have also found their way into her kitchen practice. Reviving limp herbs and salad greens by soaking them in water, refreshing stale bread by wetting and reheating, roasting stale nuts, using excess fruit to tenderise meat – and chilling aquafaba to make it work better as an egg substitute.

Rethinking waste

In Aotearoa we waste 130,000 tonnes of food each year and it’s estimated that 60 per cent of the food going to landfill is edible. The cost to households is about $1500 a year. It’s like filling three supermarket trolleys with groceries and driving them straight to the dump.

The series has encouraged Naomi to change her food habits and rethink what is waste.

Recently she chopped up a big bag of wilting mesclun and added it to a Bolognese sauce.

“My husband was laughing at me and said I was weird, but then admitted it tasted so good,” she says. “The series was real eye-opener. Some of what’s wasted is shocking. But it also made me stop and think about the simple things we everyday cooks can do to help not waste food.”

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