Guest blogger George Devereaux visits The Bristol Skipchen to find out how unwanted food can be lovingly transformed into marvelous meals…
The Bristol Skipchen is a genius new café venture, pioneering a new kind of business model in which food that would ordinarily be thrown away is recovered and used to create dishes that customers can purchase for as much or as little as they see fit. Located within The Crofters Rights bar and restaurant in the heart of Stokes Croft and run by a team of around 70 passionate volunteers, the business is working to challenge ideas about the value of food. Every day the kitchen receives food donations from all over the shot, including local farms and neighbouring shops, and even makes use of food that’s been pulled out of skips (hence the name), creating unique and exciting meals for patrons. This innovative approach to sourcing ingredients means that The Skipchen can offer up a truly dynamic menu that never allows the palate to get bored. For example, when a friend and I visited last week we were treated to a broccoli and blue cheese soup, a warming winter casserole with a fancy name – casserole a la Dylan – coined by its creator, followed by servings of pineapple and rosehip cake and delicious apple and blueberry crumble. The café has a very communal vibe: the seating, for example, is comprised of long wooden benches, meaning that everyone has to sit together. During our visit, I found myself chatting to all sorts of people and heard some interesting stories.
The Skipchen serves up food to a wide demographic of customers, from homeless people to suited and booted businessmen, all of whom support the cause and believe that no food should go to waste. The café is part of The Real Junk Food Project, which was originally founded in Melbourne, Australia by friends Adam Smith and Johanna Hewitt. On their return to the UK, Smith and Hewitt took over a community kitchen in Armley, Leeds and opened the first UK RJFP café in December 2013. Since then the network has continued to grow, with cafés popping up in Swinnow, Manchester, Brighton and now Bristol.