CRUSH CHATS TO Amanda Lewis
Head Chef of Saucisse Deli at The Old Biscuit Mill. We find out about her recent trip to Zambia and cooking eco-consciously in a bush kitchen.
At the end of June this year, Amanda set off for Zambia with Greenpop South Africa, to assist with the Festival of Action (also known as #GPZam2015), a re-greening initiative for Zambia. This was the second year in a row that she would be attending, and would head up the bush kitchen for over a month, in order to keep volunteers of the project nourished and well-fed.
Why did you attend GPZam 2015?
I had already made up my mind that I was going to join GPZam2015 the minute I left camp in 2014. I was asked by Lauren from Greenpop in 2014 if I would be interested in running the kitchen for the festival for six weeks and after serious pre-planning for Saucisse Deli, I was lucky to take time off and join the team. It was such a life-changing experience for me that I had to go back.
Have you always been an eco-conscious person?
I have always taken a very ethical stance towards the food I cook, and certainly the products that my deli sells, but I had never thought about the waste side of things. After running a green kitchen for six weeks in Zambia in 2014 and arriving home to my old outdated waste system in my restaurant, there was no doubt that I had to change things. I immediately implemented new systems that I had learnt at the festival. We currently recycle all of our plastic, glass, tin and paper/cardboard, we only use biodegradable cleaning products as well as biodegradable packaging. We hope to encourage our neighbouring restaurants to start implementing new systems too.
How did you manage to cook in an eco-conscious, sustainable and energy-efficient way while in the bush?
Cooking in the bush is all about serious pre-planning and good old problem solving. On a good day you could find yourself having a few hours off lying by the pool and on a bad day you could find yourself trying to cook in a kitchen filled with bees while trying to pay for chickens that arrived out of nowhere. But that’s what I love about it. Every day is a new challenge. I was able to experiment using solar cooking as well as the use of Wonderbags. Fantastic methods for the bush. We monitored our daily use of gas and electricity as well as meat consumption, and cooking mainly vegan meals kept our footprint down to a minimum.
How did you source your produce?
AHaving met many of the local farmers in 2014 I was able to create a good business relationship with them. Our pledge is to only support local, therefore we are able to buy produce that is in season from the local farmers rather than supporting the larger super markets. On a daily basis we had bicycles arriving with vegetables and eggs stacked high, keeping our meals as fresh as possible.
What do you hope to achieve by making Saucisse an eco-conscious establishment?
Besides knowing that on a daily basis I am making the right choices for my immediate environment and for my customers, I hope to use the restaurant as a platform to spread the knowledge that I have learnt and create a ripple effect. We all have the ability to do it, sometimes you just need a lightbulb moment. Hopefully I will help wake a few people up during my journey, living a green lifestyle. I am very keen to help out any restaurateur out there who is looking to change their systems.
Are all products sold in Saucisse from local suppliers?
Our focus at the deli has always been to support local. In the first year there were a few products that I struggled to get hold of from local suppliers, but after five years in business I can now proudly say that all of our meats, cheeses, and pantry items are all locally produced from small independent producers. It’s amazing how many new creative products come onto the market each year. We keep our fridges and shelves packed with only the best South Africa has on offer. And we encourage tasting!
Any parting words?
As a business owner I realise the importance and responsibility I have on my impact on the world. It can either be a positive or negative one. I pledge to utilise my time to help and encourage the people around me to look after our planet and I hope my story will inspire others too.