Sarah’s Stage at Silo, the worlds first zero waste restaurant

Sustainability has been the forefront of discussion in recent years due to the growing use of single use plastics, food waste, and high levels of carbon emissions.
One third of all food produced globally is wasted, and an annual value of food waste to cost up to $1 trillion leaving a lot of questions asked on why this is such a gargantuan problem.
The hospitality industry has struggled to battle these problems and is now in need of a massive change.

Sarah’s Stage, a visit to Silo

“From start to finish, it opened my eyes into a new world of cooking”

As a company who is on its sustainable journey itself, Social Pantry were delighted to have the opportunity to send one of our talented chefs on a Stage to Silo, the world’s first zero-waste restaurant run by their innovative Head Chef Douglas McMaster. For those who don’t know, a Stage – in summary – is a work placement for chefs to go to other restaurants and learn new techniques/ideas that they can bring back to use in their own workplace. We decided to make Sarah and the Silo team a visit and while enjoying the six-course set menu find out a bit more about what it means to them to be sustainable.

“Everything we used was either recycled or had a reason that we were using it. Our wipe down cloths were made from leather cuts off from our aprons so there were no Blue Rolls in site”

A mixture between Scandinavian minimalism and the contemporary edge of Hackney, Silo’s interior is made up from a mixture of recycled materials that have been reimagined into new, aesthetic furniture. The dining bar is particularly fascinating, wrapped in recycled leather and topped with a counter made from reconstituted plastic bottles; we were able to watch Sarah and the silo team at work on their orders. Sitting on the natural, biodegradable woollen upholstered seats, customers can read the menu off a projected screen on the far wall. The restaurants touch to reduce paper wastage from printing menus.


“We threw nothing away and our bins were virtually empty the whole time I was there”

With the amount of food waste that the hospitality industry produces, it was a surprise to hear that the team at Silo throw little to no food out. The mind set of zero waste is so prominent that a lot of by products are made into aspects of other courses. We were welcomed by an Amuse Bouche of Pickled Radish, Cows Curd and Miso Glaze – the miso glaze being made from fermented breadcrumbs off their home milled/homemade bread, both delicious and ingenious.

“Learning about local produce and new cuts of meat was incredible. Silo taught me how you can use almost every parts of animals to maximise flavour but that we also don’t have to eat as much meat”

The Friesian Beef course – their most daring dish due to the rising awareness and controversy of the beef industry – used an un-prized cut of meat from a dairy cow at the end of its life. Utilising cuts of meat from dairy cows, or cuts that otherwise would be thrown away isn’t common practice for restaurants. However, Silo show how delicate cooking processes can produce delicious outcomes. Inspired by Silo, Sarah has since created the 50/50 burger which comprises of half beef and half mushroom. Consciously reducing our meat consumption while not compromising on flavour, the 50/50 is the perfect dish that is a step further into reducing levels of meat that we eat.


“Cling film is everywhere in hospitality, but at Silo there wasn’t a roll in site”

When speaking to Sarah about what she learnt, her top tip to take from was to stop using plastic packaging by making a change from the source. Silo’s suppliers deliver their food in reusable boxes with NO food wrapping or cling film. Pantry items in the restaurant were stored in sealable airtight plastic boxes and the pulses and grains are topped up directly from the deliveries. This initiative is something that restaurants can take from and is certainly one of the biggest problems regarding single use plastics within hospitality.


Sarah’s 5 top Tips on how you might be able to change:

  1. Be conscious of your plastic usage. Find local drop off suppliers who don’t use plastic packaging and will use reusable pots. Abel & Cole are one of my favourite companies for home deliveries, they use sustainable suppliers and deliver plastic free. They are just launching their new project, Club Zero, a sustainable refillable delivery service.
  2. Try and incorporate more vegetables and grains into your weekly meal plan. This doesn’t necessarily mean cut out meat entirely, but it means swapping out meat where you can. If you love Bolognese for example – instead of beef you can use Adzuki Beans, they’re a great source of protein and taste just as delicious.
  3. Buy resealable boxes to store food in your fridge instead of cling film. This is a MUST for all homes, you’ll also find that your food lasts just as long and will save you money on the long run. If you’re super worried about plastic, there are lots of places that sell glass containers.
  4. Eat seasonally! This is so important when creating the menus at Social Pantry. Cooking with the season allows for the freshest and most nutritious ingredients that aren’t imported from overseas. If you want to know what to eat and when, here is a great chart that shows all the essentials. The U.K. has the most vibrant range of vegetables, use them to their best ability!
  5. Scrap the kitchen roll, invest in high quality fibre towels that can be reused for a long time. Kitchen roll is usually paper at the end of the recycling chain and therefore cannot be processed anymore. It’s often put onto mixed recycling or general waste where it gets mixed up with waste streams that it shouldn’t.