Welsh Michelin star restaurant moves to cut food waste with launch of set tasting menus

MICHELIN STAR RESTAURANT, The Checkers in Montgomery, Powys, has joined the growing movement to end food waste by announcing a move to set tasting menus in 2016.

Food waste is one of the most challenging issues facing the food retail industry today and many leading food supply businesses are beginning a determined fight to reduce it, across Britain and Europe.

The Checkers, Montgomery, believes the inevitable wastage of top quality raw ingredients and cooked dishes – discarded or sent for bio-waste recycling every week – means its current a la carte menu format is not a recipe for sustainability.

Determination to maintain Michelin star quality standards while never running out of popular dishes during a service lies at the heart of The Checkers food waste challenge.

“With a comprehensive a la carte menu there are literally scores of possible dish combinations, but it’s impossible to predict from day to day what our customers will order,” said Checkers chef patron, Stéphane Borie.

“We have an a la carte menu with five choices on each course and it is extremely rare for us to run out of dishes during service. But this means that at the end of the evening wastage is inevitable – and that is not just produce going in the bin, it is hours of work too.

“Unfortunately, this format is not a recipe for sustainability.”

To combat this, The Checkers has now announced that it will move to a set tasting menu in 2016.

A tasting menu – for the benefit of the uninitiated – is a culinary concept imported from France and known there as ‘degustation’. The term translates to careful, appreciative tasting of various foods. Tasting menus offer a larger number of courses and typically consist of a range of smaller portions showcasing a chef’s signature dishes in one sitting.

The advantage for the discerning diner is that it enables them to sample a wider range of dishes than they are otherwise able to do with a traditional a la carte menu.

For the Checkers the adoption of a tasting menu means upholding the values of classic French cuisine which are so close to the heart of Stéphane, who originally hails from south west France and trained under the legendary Michel Roux.

Stéphane’s partner, Sarah – also a chef at the Checkers – said: “We spent a long time thinking about the balance between offering the widest possible range of food choices, building on our Michelin star reputation for truly authentic French cuisine and making our business as sustainable as possible.

“A set tasting menu is the best option for us as a family business and for our guests who love having a Michelin star dining experience in mid-Wales.

“It gives us the ability to maintain the highest standards and showcase even more strongly the talents of a brilliant team of chefs with really special dishes, while also bringing food waste under control for the first time since we opened in 2011.

“The response from our customers has been brilliant. As sophisticated ‘foodies’ they understand the importance of sustainability for a small family-run restaurant like The Checkers and they are already looking forward to the new dishes in store for guests next year.”