Crushed egg shells, used coffee grounds and spoilt uncooked vegetables – such ingredients are repurposed as compost for the crops grown at One Farrer Hotel’s rooftop farm.

This “self-contained system” makes effective use of what is usually discarded as food waste.

About 20 per cent of the produce used for the hotel comes from its five-year-old farm.

However, with the reduced demand at the hotel’s restaurants during the Covid-19 pandemic, the farm now covers a “significant proportion” of supply, says Mr Ammarudin Hadi, 30, assistant manager of marketing communications at One Farrer Hotel.

Food-and-beverage businesses that run their own gardens or farm plots point out that aside from helping to reduce food waste – as chefs can harvest what they need directly from their gardens – doing so has become all the more crucial in light of the coronavirus pandemic, with concerns over a lack of or delay in produce supply.

Furthermore, sourcing from their backyard – or rooftop garden – helps to reduce their carbon footprint.

Chef Lucas Glanville, Grand Hyatt Singapore’s director of culinary operations, says: “We are able to reduce the food miles we would have accumulated if we had sourced herbs from other farms that are mostly based outside of Singapore. Food miles are important to us. The closer to home, the better.”

At the hotel, 30 per cent of its herbs come from its rooftop garden. The garden is maintained with its in-house food-waste management plant, which converts 1,000kg of food waste daily from the hotel into 500kg of pathogen-free fertiliser within 24 hours.

More than 20 herbs are available, including rosemary, thyme, oregano and Mexican tarragon. The herbs are used across its restaurants and bars – for Asian and Western cuisine, as well as in cocktails.

Moving beyond herbs and vegetables, Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford launched their 450 sq m Aquaponics Farm in November last year. Its herb and vegetable garden started in 2008.

The farm produces herbs, vegetables, edible flowers, as well as fish – jade perch and tilapia.

We are able to reduce the food miles we would have accumulated if we had sourced herbs from other farms that are mostly based outside of Singapore. Food miles are important to us. The closer to home, the better.”

CHEF LUCAS GLANVILLE, Grand Hyatt Singapore’s director of culinary operations, on reducing the hotel’s carbon footprint

The Stamford Brasserie restaurant recently launched a farm-to-table baked tilapia dish – with every ingredient sourced from the farm, says Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford’s general manger Marcus Hanna, 49.

Chefs maximising the use of produce in creative ways also work at minimising food waste.

Open Farm Community’s head chef Oliver Truesdale-Jutras, 31, ferments its home-grown white papaya for three months to make a papaya version of sauerkraut.

Torch ginger is used for ceviche, alongside lemongrass, kaffir lime, chilli and garlic; while roselle is used to make jam for its Peking duck rillette.

He is starting a new farm next to the restaurant in Minden Road to increase production.

The goal, he says, is to continue expanding farming capabilities and eventually supply sustainably farmed produce to its sister restaurants under the Spa Esprit Group.

The group’s Japanese restaurant, Noka at Funan, for example, also has its own rooftop urban farm at the mall.

Should supply be affected, chef Truesdale-Jutras notes that the Open Farm Community garden can sustain its requirements for herbs and garnishes for at least the next few months.

He adds: “This week, I have been receiving messages to inform us to be prepared for rocky times ahead.

“A big advantage of the garden is that it gives us a little more flexibility in terms of sourcing.”

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