North East eateries and producers cut waste down to size as sustainability thrives

FOOD FOR THE SOUL: Saint Monday owners Chris McGorlick and Lauren Salathiel say their sustainable approach to the business is simply an extension of their home life. 
Pictures: MARK JESSER

FOOD FOR THE SOUL: Saint Monday owners Chris McGorlick and Lauren Salathiel say their sustainable approach to the business is simply an extension of their home life. Pictures: MARK JESSER

A NEW brew made from pumpkin farm waste is in the pipeline.

FRESH APPROACH: Saint Monday uses fresh quinces brought in by a customer with an abundant supply on their menu and in preserves.

FRESH APPROACH: Saint Monday uses fresh quinces brought in by a customer with an abundant supply on their menu and in preserves.

Bright Brewery is teaming up with the Ovens-based The Australian Pumpkin Seed Company on the beer, which uses pumpkin flesh not needed in the production process. 

It also trades its spent grain, yeast and hops for Tawonga South-based Bogong Horseback Adventures’ pork down the track.

The brewery’s neighbour Bright Chocolate uses the husk byproduct from cacao beans to make its cacao tea.

Over the road the couple behind hatted restaurant Tani Eat & Drink is looking at ways to recycle spent botanicals made in its fledgling gin venture.

This little pocket of Bright – all within 100 steps of each other – is now typical of a growing mindfulness about food waste and the value of sustainable production methods on the Border and North East.

Yackandandah cafe Saint Monday is taking the premise up a notch for its event in the annual High Country Harvest festival.

Owners Lauren Salathiel and Chris McGorlick are busy preparing and preserving for a waste-free dinner titled Food For Thought on May 6.

They plan to use only produce grown around Yackandandah or food they can forage in nearby forests.

Ms Salathiel says ethical means different things to different people.

“Food For Thought will be vegetarian and vegan dishes and as waste-free as possible,” she says.

“For example, we’ll use pumpkin seeds and skin, carrot tops and the whey off the cheese we make; those things that we would normally compost will help to inspire the menu.

“It will be uniquely Yackandandah in many ways; we want to illustrate the types of food you can get in and around Yackandandah at this time of year; autumn is really exciting for us.”

Ms Salathiel says the three-course, candlelit dinner will pay homage to their environment, landscape and community.

“Being electricity-free dining is a tip of the hat to the Yackandandah approach too,” she says.

Bright Brewery marketing manager James Davidson says sustainability frames their operation.

“We are deep in our progress to achieve a 90 per cent reduction in landfill waste,” he says.

“We compost and recycle roughly 70 per cent of our waste with 30 per cent going to hard waste.

“Our goal is to reduce our hard waste to just 10 per cent.”

The brewery underwent a major redevelopment in 2012, transforming it into an environmentally-friendly venue.

Mr Davidson says they now generate enough solar power to run their brewery needs.

Australia generates a staggering amount of waste every year.

In an upcoming series on the ABC presenter and provocateur Craig Reucassel (The Chaser) will tackle the growing issues of waste in the three-part documentary War on Waste.

The daily morning coffee fix creates nearly a billion disposable coffee cups which go to landfill each year.

Saint Monday offers patrons a basket of reusable coffee cups to borrow and return, biodegradable and compostable takeaway packaging and stainless steel straws for use in the cafe. The furniture and decor have been largely repurposed and the menu is informed by fresh, seasonal produce and ethically-sourced meat. 

Ms Salathiel says their regular customers willingly share their sustainability journey.

“It’s core to what we’re doing here (at Saint Monday) and at home,” she says.

“It’s being able to nourish ourselves and our community; it makes a lot of sense to support our community.”

Mr Davidson says Bright Brewery began sending spent yeast, hops and grain to Bogong Horseback Adventures’ working farm in 2017 in exchange for pork in future.

“We have a long-standing arrangement for our spent grain going to cows but cows can’t have yeast or hops,” he says.

“Pigs can take spent grain, yeast or hops matter; all the extracts from the brewing process.

“This allows us to significantly reduce our waste and creates a circular economy, which keeps our environmental impact down.”

Mr McGorlick says Saint Monday thrives on being part of the North East food economy and linking with dozens of small scale primary producers.

“When we take people’s produce and prepare it we pass on their stories too,” Mr McGorlick says.

“Customers are not just eating eggs; they can get the whole story. They want to know what makes our eggs so RAD (from Real and Delicious Growers at Bungowannah) and we can tell them or they will want the story behind Greenwood and Grogan Produce (Allans Flat biodynamic vegetables).” 

The cafe makes its own preserves, syrups, sodas, bread, cakes and vegan doughnuts.

There is an ever-growing consciousness about it; it’s cool to be one of those cogs in the whole process. - Lauren Salathiel

“There is a lot of thinking on your feet and being creative with seasonal ingredients,” Ms Salathiel says.

“If someone brings in boxes of quinces that needs a creative approach.”

Ms Salathiel says people are increasingly considering sustainability.

“There is a growing thoughtfulness about this approach in people’s home-cooking and with farmers’ markets popping up all over the place,” she says.

“There is an ever-growing consciousness about it; it’s cool to be one of those cogs in the whole process.

“We’re lucky because the North East is abuzz with people doing it.”

Bookings are essential for the Food For Thought dinner at www.highcountryharvest.com.au.

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