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Sustained success

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Gourmet Goat wins the coveted Waste No Food prize at the Food Made Good Awards

Born in Cyprus, Nadia Stokes grew up eating kid goat. When she tried to recreate those childhood dishes over here, she was surprised to learn that rather than being eaten, billy goats (male kids) are generally considered a waste product by the British dairy industry, and disposed of straight after birth. It was as a way of righting this wrong that Nadia and her partner Nick set up Gourmet Goat, the Borough Market stall that was this week awarded a major prize for its war against waste.

“In Cyprus, the concept of waste is non-existent. I think that’s why when I found out about the kid goat meat, I just couldn’t fathom the sheer scale of waste,” Nadia explains. “At the time ‘sustainable’ wasn’t even a word I was familiar with; it was just the way we lived. It made me realise my humble village background and those principles would be a good way to model the business—in harmony with the environment and respectful of it.”

This commitment permeates all that Gourmet Goat does. They have added British rose veal, another terrible source of waste, to the menu. They make pickles and preserves with surplus and wonky veg. “We need pickles, so we use things there’s a glut of. We preserve lemons that have gone past their best and incorporate them into our roast mutton dish.” They make fresh salads and sauces in small quantities and use technology to predict daily (even hourly) demand.

Minimising wastage
“We have an IT system that monitors sales continuously, almost to the serving, so we know precisely how much to make,” Nadia continues. “If we are finding for some reason something isn’t selling as well as we’d predicted—if it’s cold, say, so more rose veal is going than halloumi—we can change the signage to encourage people to choose a certain dish. It’s all about suggestion—everything is still on the menu, but it works as another way of minimising wastage.”

Then, if there does happen to be anything left—“though I’m struggling to think of a time when there has been significant waste”—the staff get to take it home.

It was for these efforts that the business has been acknowledged by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (a not-for-profit organisation for food service businesses that focus on sustainability) in the recent Food Made Good Awards. Gourmet Goat was presented with the Waste No Food award by SRA president Raymond Blanc and vice president Prue Leith, at a special ceremony at the Royal Horticultural Society on 5th October. More than 250 restaurants were in attendance.

Leader in the field
“We were up against people with huge PR budgets such as Pizza Hut, and Poco, a leader in the field,” says Nadia. “But they liked how we had based our offering around these waste products, which nobody has really done before. We honestly did not expect to win, given what we were up against. We’re thrilled.”

The assessment process is remarkably thorough: “They don’t just look at the food, they look at everything from packaging, to the chemicals you use to clean the place, to how you treat your staff. We use ecologically friendly products, we compost—we’re proud of everything we’ve put in place,” she continues. “This is the most valuable and important award we’ve won, we’re beyond happy. It takes so much work to put these things in place—it’s great for that to be acknowledged.”