The Real Junk Food Project To Diversify

By Rachael Forster

The Real Junk Food Project Manchester is to open the North’s first waste food catering business. They currently only have 2 weeks left of serving customers at their pop-up location on Oxford Road, before they will move to larger premises in September 2018 for the new catering initiative.

The new catering business will use food that would otherwise go to waste to provide catering and meals, maintaining their ethos of being a non-for-profit operation, something that we totally support.

We went to try their menu on Oxford Road, as lovers of good food and supporters of less waste, it ticked all the boxes. We sat down in the beautifully decorated pop-up location and were presented with our 4-course menu for the night. No prices, and no bill. Instead, you fill an envelope on a pay-as-you-feel basis. After 4 delicious courses, there’s only one way you’re going to be feeling and that is IMPRESSED. Of course, being impressed doesn’t pay the bills, so we filled that envelope with as many notes we could stuff in. It’s eating dinner for a good cause, winning! It’s worth noting that the menu is dictated by whatever food is saved from bins that day (it’s even more worth noting that the food on your plate is saved before it makes it to the bin).

It was a hot summer’s evening when we arrived and the starter of Cucumber granita with a melon and radish salad was the perfect palate cleansing refreshment.

The second course was a trio of beetroot; salt baked, raw and pickled beetroot with horseradish cream. Who knew beetroot could be so diverse? Mushroom and baby leek fricassee with Parmenter potato and sweet potato puree was the next course. Between the shitake mushrooms, leeks and potato there was an interesting mix of textures to the dish. The sweet potato puree was smooth and sweet. If this was a fixed dish on the menu, I would come back to order it again. Last but not least, chocolate cake and strawberries. Mint sprinkled on the strawberries was a lovely touch to accompany a generous portion of chocolate cake. Crushed walnuts and a chocolate icing topping was the perfect combination of crunchy and sweet to finish off an enjoyable 4 courses.

Knowing that the food would have otherwise gone to waste made demolishing 4 courses into a good deed, meaning you walk out of this place feeling full and wholesome.

So, what is the Real Junk Food Project? In September 2017, RJFM opened the UK’s first waste food pay-as-you-feel restaurant on Oxford St in Manchester city-centre. The project was initially set up as a short-term pop-up, but due to its massive popularity has been open for nearly a year and has doubled the size of its operation over that time. Founder and Director, Corin Bell said, “The year that we have spent running the restaurant has been amazing! A huge social and economic experiment that we have learned so much from. We’ve been astounded by the welcome that we’ve received locally, and we’re beyond proud of the sense of community and inclusion that we’ve created. What we want to do now is take everything we’ve learned and do more.”

This new venture will allow Real Junk Food Manchester to intercept, process and use more food that would otherwise go to waste, further lowering our city’s carbon footprint. The move is also prompted by the organisation’s wish to offer more structured and significant volunteering and back to work support to a range of people. They won’t be leaving Manchester without its waste food eatery for too long, with more plans for expansion in the pipeline.

Visit the Real Junk Food Project on Oxford Road before it closes and help to #feedbelliesnotbins

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