Chefs to feed 5000 for free in Capital

Cafe St Honore chef Neil Forbes. Picture: Jane Barlow

Cafe St Honore chef Neil Forbes. Picture: Jane Barlow

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THEY won’t be using loaves and fishes, but chefs in the Capital are aiming to pull off their own feeding of the 5000 – and it’s absolutely free of charge.

Feeding the 5000, organised by Edible Edinburgh, aims to educate the public about steps they can take to stop food being wasted, a practice that harms pockets and the planet.

The meals will be prepared by award-winning chefs from Iglu, Union of Genius, Edinburgh Larder, Hugh Grierson Organic, Blackfriar’s and The Gardener’s Cottage.

Neil Forbes, head chef at Cafe St Honore and Scottish Chef of the Year 2011, will be supervising the six stations, each aiming to feed 833 people in an afternoon using their own signature dish, made from food which may otherwise have ended up in a landfill or feeding cattle.

And he’s hoping the event, which will use vegetables from local allotments and sustainable farming projects Stirfresh, Kettle Produce and Skea Organics, will remind people that there really is a lot more to your food than meets the eye.

He said: “The insistence of larger food retailers that their vegetables look a certain way leads to tonnes of perfectly good produce being wasted every year, and has also made many people a bit loath to buy “imperfect” looking ­vegetables. We want to encourage people out of this mindset and get them back to buying from local, sustainable producers – the veg may be a bit ­knobbly, but they’ll be better for you, your community and the planet.”

Shopping from local producers also means people are more likely to buy only what they need when they need it, meaning less produce bought on a weekly shop rotting at the back of the fridge.

“This is going to be a really fun, community event with lots of winter warming soups and stews to go around,” said Neil. “It is quite daunting to think of the number of people we’ll be feeding in four hours.”

Those coming along to the event will also have the opportunity to give their views on a public consultation to develop a Sustainable Food City ­Strategy for Edinburgh.

Food waste leads to unnecessary use of chemicals, more fuel for transportation, and rotting food creating more methane – one of the most harmful greenhouse gases. Worldwide it is estimated one third of food produced a year is wasted. A report by the council in March revealed in Edinburgh this equated to every household throwing away £450 a year.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, Environment Convener at the City of Edinburgh Council and a member of Edible Edinburgh, said: “Edible Edinburgh’s vision is that the Capital will become a place where good food is available and accessible for all, making for healthy people, thriving communities and a sustainable environment. It supports the council’s on-going work to encourage the recycling of food waste and reducing landfill, which will lead to a cleaner and greener city.”

The event, the first of its kind in Scotland, is taking place a week today in Bristo Square.

jen.lavery@edinburghnews.com