There are good people in this world – and sometimes these angels provide delicious food. Let me introduce you to the REfUSE Cafe in Chester Le Street.
I am so grateful to the Cafe (who just celebrated their one year anniversary) as they work to save food from garbage bins while breathing new life into the worn high street of Chester Le Street (located between Newcastle and Durham in the North-East of England.)
Their ethos was something I could get behind right away. (Their website explains it much better than I ever could:)
“REfUSE is Durham’s branch of The Real Junk Food Project: a rapidly growing network of organisations challenging criminal levels of food waste. We intercept food before it becomes waste and turn it into healthy, accessible meals, served on a ‘Pay As You Feel’ basis.”
From the food they collect from grocery stores and manufacturers, they create a full cafe menu. From coffee cakes, toasties, soups, to vegan and gluten free options; all from what would traditionally be food waste. They are able to offer something for everyone’s taste buds and dietary preferences. It is astounding to see how much food is prepared from food that would normally be thrown away.
However, from our society’s wastefulness comes a silver-lining of deliciousness. The Cafe’s daily offerings are great (big shout out to the new Iced Lattes – with coconut milk!), and twice a month they host restaurant nights. This is when they have a themed cuisine, Indian, French, Vegan etc. and offer a three course dinner surrounding it. Again, all of these offerings are pay what you feel with food that would otherwise be sent to landfill. They are BYOB (bonus!) and sometimes there is even live music.
This past week I packed up my Sainsbury’s G&Ts and went to take part in their Thai Cuisine night.
The menu was a strong one – starting with Papaya Salad. They came around to our table to offer extras, and I could not say no to more of this fresh salty flavour on par with a thai restaurant. The salad was paired with mini spring rolls, baked dumplings and of course dipping sauce (y’all know I love a good condiment moment!)
For the main we had the choice of a Green Thai Chicken Curry or Aubergine Panang curry with brown rice. Both GGG (Glorious Ginger Greg) and I went for the Aubergine Panang as it’s something neither of us tried before. The plating was extremely professional. The dish itself was low on heat but high on flavour. (Also Aubergine = Eggplant my North American pals. I can’t explain why, and I don’t have the energy to google it!)
The great thing about REfUSE is if you let them know of any dietary requirements, they are vigilante. My dairy free dessert was a mound of fresh pineapple – (great with a post dinner gin!) While my partner had a refreshing pineapple mousse.
Oh, did I mention that these dinners – and daily Cafe offerings – are volunteer driven? FOOD ANGELS. If you are ever in the area, or just passing by, I highly suggest stopping by for a coffee, treat, or even an evening meal to support this worthwhile organisation.
REfUSE also hosts a variety of events – live music evenings, Pilates, craft parties. Follow them on social to stay on top of their offerings (and restaurant nights!)
Sorry guys, no jokes for this post. This is just SERIOUSLY good stuff, run by TREMENDOUSLY good people.
** I know the photo quality in this post is AWFUL, but would you expect anything less from me?