Tell Me More // Nothing for Dinner

The chaps behind The Cult Project pop-ups are turning up at Misters during Restaurant Month to make dinner using food that some might consider to be waste. It will be collected by the professional food rescuers at Kiwi Harvest, and turned into something delicious and fascinating by chefs Will and Carlo, and if you go along, you’ll leave filled with good food and new ideas about what constitutes “waste” and how you can help to save the world.

Tell me a little about Nothing for Dinner
We’re making snacks, a 3 course meal and serving one non-alcoholic drink. There’s no menu for the event as we’ll be cooking whatever ingredients Kiwi Harvest give us. Instead we’ll have concepts/cooking methods to apply to what we potentially will be serving. The idea is to cook using ingredients that people might normally consider waste, or what they use for compost. The challenging part is not the cooking, but not making it too technical, so diners don’t feel intimidated about trying to use an ingredient at home – but obviously still preparing it in an interesting manner that makes for a great dining experience. Hopefully after this event our diners will take ideas about how to make the most of ingredients like these and try it at home.

What was the inspiration for this event?
It’s funny that the title of the event is Nothing for Dinner when we’ve created a pop-up restaurant, The Cult Project, from nothing as well. This concept is a nice fit for what we do as a pop-up, anyone who has been to one of our dinners knows we like make the most out of every ingredient. A good example would be the potato: we use the pulp for making mash or gnocchi and we use the skin to make broths, sauces or even crackers.

With all this issues that are facing the environment, we think it’s important to raise awareness about food waste. Whether or not you’re a meat eater, vegetarian or vegan, it still comes down to that same issue of respecting your ingredients. Life has been taken away from these ingredients for our sustenance, so it’s up to us to treat the produce with utter respect, and to try to maximise its usage.

As professionals in the hospitality industry, we feel it is our responsibility to enlighten diners about ways to cook consciously.

The peeps from Misters real food and Kiwi Harvest are involved too, how are you working with both to bring this event to life?

As a pop-up restaurant we usually take over a space for a night or two. That’s where Misters Real Food comes in, we’ll be taking over their space for one night only during Restaurant Month. We like to collaborate with people who share our philosophy and values, which is why the team at Misters will be working alongside us in the kitchen. They will also be in charge of the non-alcoholic beverage for the night, other drinks will be available on the night though.

In your experience, what’s the biggest misconception people have about food waste and rescued food?

I think the issue with food waste is simply not knowing how to use these ingredients in tasty ways that – a broccoli stem, for example. If a person has a full understanding of the ingredient, there is likely to be less waste.

In terms of rescued food, it comes down to knowing where the rescued food comes from, and the person/group that’s rescuing it. Rescue food needs to be packed and stored properly to avoid cross-contamination and to prevent the food from spoiling. The team at Kiwi Harvest are pros.

What can people expect if they come along to this event?

A thought provoking night filled with creative food and drink. Hopefully after this event people will see food in a different light and will try to experiment a little bit more with things like ferments, pickles and preserves. We’d like for people to see our food philosophy as chefs, because this will be our approach when we have our own space. I hope this event will open doors for more pop-up restaurants and pop-up event during next year’s Restaurant Month.

What are you favourite places to eat and/or drink in the central city?

Misters of course. Chuffed is a really good place for brunch and we like that fact that the back area transports you to another place – it’s like you’re not in the city anymore. Tanpopo Ramen is perfect for this cold winter season, and they probably make the best ramen in Auckland. Miann is a really good spot for desserts. Brian Campbell also started with a pop-up before opening up his own place. Depot is really good, regardless of time of day or night, the food is tasty and affordable and the service is always on point. As for drinks, we like My Bar. Asa is such a talented bartender and good for chats too. Mo’s is another one of our locals, a nice, quiet place to have a drink, although it can be really busy. Vultures and Brew on Quay are our go-to for beers.

What other restaurants are you keen to hit up during Restaurant Month?

We’re both pretty busy, but we’d like to try Cassia if we can, we’ve never been.

Tickets are still available for Nothing for Dinner. Get some here >>

Check out our Restaurant Month Top Picks.