Tips on sustainable catering from Tara’s Table

By Tara of Tara's Table

Tara’s Table are providing some local snacks at the ‘Going for Gold’ Green Mingle on 2nd May. In the post below, Tara highlights a few actions she takes to ensure her business is as sustainable as possible.

I’m Tara and I run Tara’s Table, a small but carefully formed Private Chef & Corporate Event Catering business, based in North Bristol.  I’ve always loved food having had the good fortune to be brought up with good, simple, home cooked food.  Plus, being vegetarian for around 6 years from the age of about 14 meant that I was cast out to cook for myself.  I left home after university armed with a copy of French Provincial Cooking or ‘FPC’ as it was fondly known in my house, by Elizabeth David, and I have never stopped cooking since.

I started cooking professionally in restaurants from the very bottom, which as we all know, is the best place to start, and quite late, at 32 on an eye-watering low wage, but it was well worth it.  I cooked in restaurants for eight years before starting my own catering business in 2010.  Rather like my good food childhood, my upbringing in restaurants was similarly privileged.  I was lucky to cook under the best I could find in Bristol, with impeccable ethos of seasonal, well sourced food, which in the early 2000’s was much more of a rarity than it is now.  We cooked from scratch with beautiful ingredients, we filleted whole wild sea bass, made stock from the bones and broke down and butchered whole organic lamb, served all these will delicious seasonal vegetables, etc., – the stuff of chef dreams. 

Personally, I think most waste comes down to laziness, especially in kitchens. Chefs can be tired people who work long hours. It takes a little bit more attention and concentration to use resources sparingly and considerately, but it’s very possible to do so, especially once you get in the habit.

I’m no Greta Thunberg but here are some of the things I do in my own business to combat the global crisis:

  • buying seasonal produce and where possible, local, but always responsibly sourced
  • offering a good choice with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options
  • not wasting food – this means reducing as much food waste and spoilage as possible through careful handling and diligent storage at the preparation stage
  • thinking carefully when ordering food, not over ordering and making the right amounts: this is not as easy as it sounds when there are paying customers to please who love to see abundance and generosity, and often worry that there won’t be enough to impress their guests
  • making sure that any leftovers don’t go to waste by communicating with the customer about what they would like to happen to them, or often giving them to ever grateful student waiting staff
  • not wasting energy by only switching the oven, hot water, etc., on when it’s going to be used, this means planning a prep list carefully
  • always using compostable packaging and disposables, like plates, cutlery & napkins
  • always being mindful of plastics use, keeping this to a minimum and re-using as much as possible
  • putting lids on things instead of cling-filming everything
  • composting all our own veg waste on-site

Tara’s Table is joining Bristol’s Going for Gold initiative and I’m really excited to be doing this to reinforce and police my actions, apart from anything else. I believe that, although some may say the current environmental problems are too big to solve, we can all do our bit towards a greener planet. 

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So, what change do you want to see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.

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