Real Junk Food Manchester has launched a £20k crowdfunding campaign to set up Manchester’s first waste food pay-as-you-feel cafe and restaurant.
Funds raised through the campaign will pay for the design and build of a kitchen and other works needed to get the new eatery set up.
A site just outside the city centre has been identified which is available for 6 months. The project’s aim is to open a permanent city centre cafe and restaurant, but as organisers recognise that they may need to move around a bit at first, they are working with a firm of kitchen designers and fitters to develop a mobile kitchen that they can move into any space that has electricity and running water.
Food is sourced from supermarkets, wholesalers, artisan producers and also directly from farms. The food often comes from returned home shopping orders or could be items a farmer isn’t able to sell because they aren’t the right colour for supermarkets.
Just because all of the meals happen to be made from ingredients which would otherwise have gone to waste doesn’t mean it won’t taste good. Manchester’s foodies can expect top quality food created by the project’s chefs including Aumbry’s Mary-Ellen McTague.
“The ultimate point of our project is that this food shouldn’t have been thrown away,” says director Corin Bell. “In fact produce from wholesalers is often at the peak of ripeness but retailers wouldn’t buy it because it would be past it’s best the day after it reached their shelves. We have harvested a whole field of cauliflowers that were deemed the ‘wrong shade of white’ for supermarkets – this is so hard to understand when it tastes great and is packed full of nutrients.
“The best way we can think of to show how good this food is, is to have two amazing chefs transform it into fantastic dishes of top restaurant quality. That’s what this restaurant will do with the help of the people of Manchester.”
The waste food received by the project will dictate the restaurant’s menu each day and customers will be asked to pay what they feel their meal was worth, give whatever they can, or recognise the value of the meal by donating their time, energy and skills to the project.
“Using wasted food ingredients, focussing on cooking and serving hot meals, and offering meals on a pay-as-you-feel basis means that Real Junk Food reverses the trend of the poorest in our city having the worst diets, and having severely limited access to healthy food. By sourcing food that would go to waste, the project intercept a huge quantity of basic, healthy ingredients, offering access to good food, and further bucking the trend of the most vulnerable in our society being offered heavily processed, tinned or dried meals.”
The project will publish details of every penny spent and if there are funds left over organisers will invite those who supported the Crowdfinder to vote on activities to help the wider community including free meals, cookery lessons and days out for isolated residents.
We think this is a brilliant idea and well worth supporting.