Chef's sustainable cooking tricks, tips

Executive chef at Protea Hotel by Marriott OR Tambo, Coovashan Pillay.
Executive chef at Protea Hotel by Marriott OR Tambo, Coovashan Pillay.
Image: SUPPLIED

Sustainability. That's the word. The world is moving towards ensuring everything we do is sustainable, especially in the food industry.

Consumers, who are a large part of the process, are also now asking questions which encourage big business to be more transparent.

What happens to the meat you eat before it gets on your table? Where is the farm?

There has indeed been a lot of interest piqued by shows such as Netflix's Chef's Table that follows the origins and processes of not only superstar chefs but the forgotten ingredients and methods they use.

Take for example renowned pastry chef Will Goldfarb, who left the fast-paced culinary world in America and found a new life in Bali, Indonesia, where he dreams up extraordinary pastries and knows his sugar supplier by first name.

Use pots that cover the entire stove plate to save electricity.
Use pots that cover the entire stove plate to save electricity.
Image: SUPPLIED

The coconut palm sugar that is made on the island is less sweet than refined sugar and is extracted in a process that is indigenous to the locals. Another standout of the show is Italian butcher Dario Cecchini, who believes in using all of the cow that is killed. He ensures cattle are taken care of and their lives are not lost in vain.

Sustainability also extends to food preparation, and you at home can also change your practices to further help the environment, by minimising your carbon footprint.

Executive chef at Protea Hotel by Marriott OR Tambo, Coovashan Pillay, has compiled six sustainable cooking tricks and tips to help those at home to go green.

Reduce the amount of electricity you use

Slicing meat and vegetables into thin slices reduces the time used to cook them; also use pots that cover the entire stove plate, ensuring to keep the lid on so that not a lot of heat and energy escapes during cooking. When cooking rice or pasta, one could also use a large enough pot to place vegetables above to steam.

Crockpot

A powerless all-in-one pot can be used to save time and energy. It works by placing a pot of food that has been brought to the boil into the drawstring pouch and leaving it there for the required cooking time.

Cookware

You can use eco-friendly cookware that has been made from recycled material such as aluminum or bamboo. Also, cookware manufacturers are now using ceramic to create non-stick pots, pans and oven dishes. This speeds up your cooking time.

Korean barbecue using gas grills are great at energy saving.
Korean barbecue using gas grills are great at energy saving.
Image: SUPPLIED

Gas

When the electricity goes out you can still cook and also, you are able to adjust the gas flames for your needs.

Fire

Go old school by using fire, whether it's in the form of a wood fire or gas grilling. For outdoor cooking one can opt for an open fire, a wood braai, or an earth oven for pizzas and breads.

Air frying

An air fryer is an appliance that uses a small built-in fan circulating heat over food, thereby immersing and surrounding items in the same temperature as would be done when deep frying. 

Drinking liquid history in whiskey

Glenmorangie's Bill Lumsden says his favourite moments are seeing people enjoying their glass of whiskey.
Glenmorangie's Bill Lumsden says his favourite moments are seeing people enjoying their glass of whiskey.
Image: SUPPLIED

It's not every day that one gets to sit across from a famed multi-award-winning whiskey creator, who has + 35 years in the industry.

Dr Bill Lumsden is a font of knowledge and, refreshingly, he still gets animated when talking about his work at Glenmorangie.

We meet at the plush Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, for a one-on-one interview and whiskey-tasting experience. I ask the usual questions being a rookie whiskey drinker myself, and that is, "where do I start?"

"You don't want something that is too strong, you definitely don't want something that would shock you and put you off whiskey forever . something that's soft on the palate, something that's relatively fruity in taste," he says.

Lumsden also recommends speaking to your bartender or liquor store attendant in terms of guidance. Another way to experiment is to taste the whiskey in different ways.

"Try it neat; with a little bit of fresh water; try it on the rocks and maybe even try it with soda [water]. And just see which way you prefer it, there is no one way to drink it.

"One thing I will say is don't try it with Coca-Cola, that's not the best way."

Lumsden recommends drinking Glenmorangie original with a large block of ice, a measure of ginger ale and a little bit of lime juice. He cautions that there's no such thing as a double or triple malt and consumers shouldn't be fooled. Single malt means the whiskey is made from 100 percent malted barley, and the single means it comes from one estate.

Lumsden has a PhD in fermentation science, but he says it's not the science that guides him in whiskey making, it's love.

"This is not my job, it's my life. I'm always thinking different things. I'm very much more a creative person than I am an organised person. I'm a very emotional, passionate person. It's all to do with the feeling I have. I've been doing this for 35 years now, it's in my soul."

Lumsden, who is on his third visit here, said he found that South Africans certainly have a whiskey culture, but lack knowledge about the spirit. He says the industry can do a better job at educating people about whiskey the world over.

"I'm saying this directly to our potential and existing customers here in SA, is that enjoy our products, but think a little bit about it. There's so much to it. Hundreds of years of heritage and tradition goes into this... when you're drinking it you're not just drinking it, you're drinking liquid history of the small country of Scotland," he says.

And what has been the highlight across his illustrious career?

"The absolute favourite moment and it's happened many times is when I'm pouring a glass of Glenmorangie to someone for the very first time and seeing the smile on their face, because they often expect not to like it. And sometimes they want not to like it. I've won many awards and that's great, but the most rewarding thing for me is seeing someone with a look on their face that they're enjoying the product."

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