Douglas McMaster’s ground breaking zero-waste restaurant in Hackney shows that sustainability and high-reaching cooking can go hand-in-hand
A restaurant that describes itself as always having the bin in mind might not sound like the kind of place you’d want to eat, but in the case of Silo you should make an exception.
Launched at the tail end of 2019, Douglas McMaster’s ‘zero waste’ restaurant is the result of painstaking work from the ambitious chef to open a restaurant that not only has full respect for the environment, agricultural practices and nutrition but which can also stand shoulder to shoulder with fine dining restaurants across the globe in terms of decor and food.
With Silo he has more than achieved this. The restaurant has its own flour mill for ancient varieties of wheat, churns it owns butter, produces its own oat milk, and practices nose to tail cooking that uses the entirety of every animal killed. This approach continues throughout the restaurant, with the beautiful crockery made from plastic bags and tables from reconstituted food packaging, with the furniture either up-cycled or made from materials that would otherwise have been wasted. Anything that isn’t eaten isn’t thrown away either, but instead turned into valuable compost.
Naturally, given McMaster’s dream, you wouldn’t know any of this just by looking. The utilitarian dining room with whitewashed walls and a counter bar overlooking an open kitchen would not look out of place in Scandinavia while the menu illustrates a restaurant whose culinary ambitions match that of its environmental ones. From dishes such as brined tomatoes with curds and alexander pollen; and bavette with smoked miso and sichuan pepper; to smoked pink fir potatoes with blue cheese amazake; and cacao husk and buttermilk dulce de leche, Silo shows that zero waste can still mean maximum flavour.