Imagine Ready Steady Cook, but on a grand scale — and with zero waste. That’s what this Irish food truck can do

Game Changers: Chef Colm Burke’s menus for the catering-friendly FoodCloud Kitchen are based on seasons and surpluses

Events are back with a bang. But business as usual will mean thousands of tonnes of catered food ending up in landfill to burp out methane, a greenhouse gas almost 30 times more warming than carbon dioxide.

Tackling food waste is a win-win for everyone. As householders we save money. A mind-boggling one million tonnes of food is wasted every year in Ireland. Around a third of that is household waste with an average of 117kg of food waste per person every year at a cost per household of up to €1,000.

Ireland’s catering industry is responsible for 100,000 tonnes of food waste a year, at a cost of more than €200 million. So a zero-waste food truck that can cater for your event with leftover food repurposed into tasty meals is a breakthrough

The catering industry is responsible for 100,000 tonnes of that total per year. Someone in the Environmental Protection Agency has calculated that’s enough to fill the pitches of 12 Croke Parks a metre high with rubbish. And it comes at a cost of more than €200 million a year to the industry.

So a zero-waste food truck that can cater for your event with leftover food repurposed into tasty meals is a breakthrough. FoodCloud launched its Foodcloud Kitchen three months ago. A branded food truck, it is available to cater for festivals, events or special occasions. Former head chef at Mayo restaurant Cafe Rua, Colm Burke is the man at the grill in the cheery blue food truck and a behind-the-scenes prep kitchen where larger quantities of meals are made. Menus are based on seasons and surpluses so whatever surplus is available from the FoodCloud warehouse will make the lunch or dinner offering.

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Spices and vinegars are the only ingredients Burke has been buying. These long-life condiments don’t end up in the surplus bin. Menu planning is, he says, a lot like Ready Steady Cook and he’s determined to make it delicious as well as zero waste. His signature dish at the moment is potato salad made with baked potatoes so the crunchy skins, with all their flavours, are added to the potato salad leaving nothing to waste. About 200kg of butterbeans have been frozen for making hummus. “It’s a complete circular economy.”

The kitchen started at farmers’ markets so it has taken a little while to work out the numbers that need to be catered for. Corporate events, like a 200-person occasion for eBay, are easier to cater to as the numbers are defined. Creating catering with food waste that itself creates no food waste is “a bit of a mission for me”, says Burke. The last four events have resulted in zero leftovers. At Dublin City Council’s Eat the Streets, in Collins Barracks, Burke cooked everything to order and they sold every mouthful by 4pm.

You can email FoodCloud Kitchen to book it for a corporate launch, team-building day or special event

Catherine Cleary

Catherine Cleary

Catherine Cleary, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a founder of Pocket Forests