Matt Stone is one of my food heroes. He’s known as Australia’s leading sustainable chef, and he cooks with healthy, traditional, wholefoods, but in a way that makes everyone sit up and take notice. You may have seen him on ‘Recipes that Rock’ with Blur’s Alex James, or maybe you’ve been lucky enough to taste his food firsthand, at the Greenhouse (Perth), or Brothl (Melbourne, now closed), or at the restaurant where he is now head chef, Oakridge, in the Yarra Valley.
“Matt Stone is a once in generation genius – a culinary visionary whose sustainable restaurants make the rest of the world look years out of date”
– Alex James.
Matt started cooking when he was 15, and although he isn’t formally trained, he has been inspired by his massive cookbook collection, has worked with some really great chefs, and has travelled and cooked all over the world from a young age.
I first saw Matt cook five years ago when he was competing on Iron Chef Australia against Neil Perry, and I was totally blown away by his creativity.
At the time he was only 22 years old, and already a force to be reckoned with in the foodie world. He was working as head chef at Joost’s Greenhouse in Perth, and was showing Australia what could be done with fresh, sustainable, locally sourced wholefoods. I visited the Greenhouse in February 2011 with a group of friends, and I think between us all we tried nearly everything on the menu. And loved it all!
Then last year, when I was only a couple of weeks into the GAPS diet, I had to go to Melbourne for blog awards. I was pretty worried about what I would eat while away, but amazingly I ended up staying just around the corner from Matt’s ‘Zero Waste’, broth cafe, Brothl, and I was able to have delicious broths every day, and even could buy them to take away! Lifesaver!!
In September, Matt began working as head chef at a new, sustainable restaurant in the Yarra Valley, Vic, called Oakridge. He says, “I’m thrilled to lead the team into my chosen territory of truly modern, intelligent and innovative food ideas.”
I was able to have a chat to Matt over the phone, recently, and I asked him how he learnt to cook. He said,
“I’m still learning how to cook! Practice practice practice is the best way to learn how to cook. Listen to people and read lots.”
I also asked Matt to explain how he runs a sustainable kitchen, both at work and at home, as I think we could all benefit from his innovative ideas!
So here’s Matt’s 7 Top Tips for a Sustainable Kitchen…
1. Practice nose to tail eating: Don’t waste the bones from the meats you cook – use them to make delicious and nutritious bone broths! Roast the bones first for a fuller, deeper flavour. Add in the chicken feet and even heads for a great, gelatinous chicken broth, for example, that doesn’t waste anything. (If you’ve never made your own bone broths before, here’s how.)
2. Compost the scraps: Matt uses a Closed Loop composting machine, both at work and at home, which reduces organic waste by 90 percent in 24 hours, and converts it into an odourless, nutritious compost filled with healthy bacteria to enrich the soil. The soil is then used in the restaurant garden to grow their organic veggies. He highly recommends these composting machines, which are available in both commercial and kitchen bench sizes.
3. Grow your own veggies: Matt loves gardening, and grew up in a family that always grew their own veggies. So he is pretty excited about Oakridge restaurant’s organic veggie garden! He says that even though he loves cooking, he is happiest in the garden. If you don’t have a lot of room for a garden, there are plenty of things you can grow in boxes, such as lettuce, spinach, spring onions and herbs – just snip off the leaves as you need them. Also tomatoes, capsicum, bush beans, and even broccoli can be grown in small spaces.
4. Build relationships with suppliers: This is the way to source the best, organic, biodynamic, fresh, local meat and produce! Matt buys through local farmers in the Yarra Valley, and also loves the Preston Market. He recommends getting to know your local butcher, the farmers at the farmer’s markets, the people who grow the food you eat, the people that own the organic stores you shop at. Ask about farming practices, where they source their meat, where the produce is coming from and how fresh it is. If possible, visit their farms. Ask around to find out who has organic, biodynamic produce (not only are they the healthiest option but Matt insists they have the best flavour!), and ask about alternatives to plastic packaging.
5. Reduce waste packaging: Matt delivers reusable crates to the suppliers for them to send the produce in (for both meat and veggies), so that they’re not needing to dispose of boxes and bags at the restaurant. For the home cook, there are plenty of ways to reduce packaging while shopping, including taking along your own reusable bags, shopping at waste free bulk buying shops, and shopping at the local farmer’s markets or organic stores where food isn’t pre-packaged. Fresh meat and cheeses can be wrapped in waxed butcher’s paper instead of plastic (you can take your own paper or even containers to the butchers for them to put the meat into). Make your own breads or buy in paper bags or no bags. There’s lots more ideas for reducing waste packaging here on my Facebook page!
6. Buy in bulk: Buying things in bulk will have a huge effect on how much waste you generate and the cost will drop dramatically. Matt buys all his grains and pulses in large sacks then stores them in glass jars. If you need help working out how to bulk buy, read this article.
7. Keep your kitchen chemical free: Matt advises, “Food and chemicals don’t mix. When it comes to cleaning the home, ENJO products will help to keep that side of things chemical and waste free.” Not only can you use ENJO products with only water, no detergents, they will also last a lot longer than the usual throw-away kitchen cloths.
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UPDATE: Giveaway now over. Winners of giveaway are Alicia, Faye and Karen – they have been notified by email. Thanks for all the great comments!
Matt is now working with ENJO to help people ‘kick chemicals in the kitchen’, so ENJO have offered to gift a lucky Quirky Cooking reader with a Limited Edition “Matt Pack”! They’ve also offered two runners up prizes – here’s what you could win…
1st Prize – A “Matt Pack”
Included in this pack: Kitchen Mini, Kitchen Sponge, Kitchen Miracle, Fruit and Veg Cloth, All Purpose Cloth and 2 Matt Stone Tea Towels. The RRP is $149 and it’s available from 1st November to 24th Dec.
2nd & 3rd Prizes
A set of 2 Matt Stone Tea Towels (worth $25)
and a Fruit & Veggie Cloth (worth $25)
So if you’re working towards having a sustainable kitchen and would like me to send you one of these ENJO packs, comment below and share your best tip for cutting down on waste in the kitchen!
Winners will be randomly drawn via random.org on Saturday 7th Nov, at 8pm EST, and will be notified on this post and via email.
Thanks Matt, and thanks ENJO! Happy sustainable cooking, everyone 🙂