What: Wasted! at the Chef’s Table serving a waste menu

Where: Belmond Mount Nelson, Cape Town (+27 21 481-1948)

When: Wasted! is offered on Saturdays at lunch only

How much: R370 for a five course meal excluding wine

Would I return? Absolutely.

Review: After a walk through the Belmond Mount Nelson spring-watered garden, an oasis of calm greenery in drought-stricken Cape Town, we were led past event and dining rooms to a kitchen alcove deep inside the city’s Grand Dame.

We had booked the Wasted! Chef’s Table to try the five-course meal made from food that otherwise would have ended up in a dirt bin or the hotel’s worm farm. Called unwanted food, waste is the “fashionably rejected” parts of fruits and vegetables, meat and fish used in the kitchen. Executive chef Rudi Liebenberg has an interest in the sustainability of nose-to-tail and root-to-stem cooking, and is keen to use every part of each ingredient.

In the Planet Restaurant kitchen, four round tables were laid in the small alcove, but we were the only two guests on Saturday. The walls are tiled white half way up, the rest painted a warm mustard. We had excellent service, all our requests promptly attended to and a guided tour of the kitchen.

You’d never guess that you were eating leftover bits and pieces

Before the tour, we had food to eat. First on the menu was a platter of deep fried chicken, potato, cauliflower and fish skins; and boiled, dehydrated beef tendons along with salsas and sauces. It’s impossible to imagine what these could taste like, but believe me they were crispy, salty and absolutely more-ish, each in their own particular way. A cold lettuce soup was next, before the trout tartar and vegetables baked in a cornhusk were served. Attention to detail in the plating is meticulous without an overly fussy result, and you’d never guess that you were eating leftover bits and pieces.

The fourth dish, a meat one, consisted of reconstituted pasta freshly rolled into a tortellini and cannelloni then stuffed with miscellaneous pieces of lamb. Well stuffed ourselves, we needed a stroll before dessert. Craig Hibbert, the hotel’s pastry chef, took us on a tour of the kitchen. It’s a big, well-oiled machine with various departments looking after different aspects of the cooking process: fruit prep, vegetable prep, sauces, cold storages, freezer etc. The main cooking areas were busy with chefs preparing meals for hotel guests.

Eating waste food has become a popular reaction to the mass of food that is wasted every day

Dessert was an apple panne cotta (made from green apple skins) served with marmalade ice-cream and a thin slice of toasted croissant, a leftover from breakfast. Like the previous courses, this was delicious. Overall the meal was an excellent result of chefs wanting to “learn, see and taste how every part of each ingredient is respected”. The growing trend for the eating and cooking of waste food is an important reaction to the mass of food that is wasted every day across the world. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.

I wonder what happened to my leftover lunch.

  • The Wasted! menu is available on Saturdays at lunchtime at the Chef’s Table. It costs R370 for a five-course meal. To book call +27 21 481-1948 or e-mail restaurantreservations.mnh@belmond.com
  • Pictures: Supplied