The island’s culinary maestros are cooking out of the box to eliminate food wastage in their kitchens

This story was originally published on July 31, 2022, and updated on September 15, 2022. Additional reporting by Amanda Goh.

817 million kilogrammes (or the equivalent of 2,950 A380 planes)—that’s how much food waste Singapore generated in 2021, according to the National Environment Agency (NEA).

For a nation that is resource-scarce, the numbers are staggering especially when a significant portion of food waste is avoidable.

A WWF report published in 2021 found that approximately 40 per cent of all food grown globally is not eaten and ends up wasted. This astounding amount of wastage is responsible for 10 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions.

The One Planet Plate campaign, which was launched in Singapore by HSBC and sustainable consultancy Food Made Good Hong Kong, is helping to build a more sustainable food system using a platform that shows how top chefs deal with food wastage.

Tatler Dining spoke to four chefs from some of Singapore’s most notable restaurants to find out how they minimise food wastage in their kitchens. Here’s what they shared.

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1. Poisson

Tatler Asia
Above Poisson

In the Poisson kitchen, executive chef Ma Yee Khang maximises every ingredient they use by experimenting with various cooking styles, techniques, textures and flavours to create dishes that are delicious and good for the planet. Moreover, they only use responsibly sourced produce.
For example, its prawn tartare uses blue prawns that are procured from sustainably certified dish farms. The head is deep fried till crispy to resemble a crispy chip; instead of discarding the shells, these are used to make an umami-packed fish stock.
Tatler Offer: HSBC card members who dine at Poisson from September 1 to December 31 will receive a plate of complementary salmon rillette with a mix bread basket and edamame.

Poisson, 48 Bukit Pasoh Road, S(089859), +65 6223 2131

2. The Elephant Room

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Above The Elephant Room

For head chef Nandini Rao, “pushing the creativity of each mind” also means thinking of ways to utilise every produce and ingredient they use in the kitchen. That is why Rao creatively incorporates various parts of an ingredient into a dish—even the discarded items. Through this, he hopes to educate diners on how “good food can be made from waste”.
For instance, the chickpea chaat salad is made with pressure-cooked dried chickpeas, while its aquafaba (leftover liquid from cooked chickpeas) is used for drinks at the bar. The salad is then flavoured with locally obtained spices from Tekka Market. Excess food trimmings are either made into stock, or compost.
Tatler Offer: HSBC card members who dine at The Elephant Room from September 1 to 31 will be able to order the signature dish, mussels and crab sothi, at a discounted price.

The Elephant Room

20A Teck Lim Rd, Singapore 088391

3. Kausmo

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Above Heirloom tomatoes, patatas bravas

Minimising food waste is at the centre of Lisa Tang’s kitchen philosophy. The co-founder and chef of Kausmo says she tries to use every ingredient in its entirety—even the ugly ones.

These “aesthetically filtered” fruit and vegetables are those with aesthetic imperfections that do not meet retailers’ specifications despite being of good quality.

For example, Kausmo uses “aesthetically filtered” cucumbers to make the pickles in its cucumber veloute, and trimmed flesh from the same cucumbers is used to make the veloute sauce.

Paired with potato puree and champagne jelly, scarred heirloom tomatoes were also made the star of the show on Kausmo’s anniversary menu this year.

For Tang, it was an externship at Primo in Rockland, Maine, that showed her how it was possible to “live off the land and not have to destroy it in any way”. Similarly, Kausmo’s co-owner and restaurant manager Kuah Chew Shian’s study experience in Scandinavia prompted her to reexamine Singapore’s food system.

Often dishing out tips via social media, Tang says she hopes that diners can be inspired to carry out the same thoughtfulness at home. “From choosing local produce to using each product in its entirety, these small differences can collectively make a difference,” Tang says.

Tatler Offer: HSBC card members who dine at Kausmo from July 1 to August 31 will enjoy a complimentary glass of kombucha*.

Kausmo, 1 Scotts Road, 03-07, S(228208),+65 8126 8538

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4. Oumi

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Above Awabi

At Oumi, which practises a nose-to-tail approach, each ingredient is used without wastage thanks to the use of different techniques and cooking styles.

For instance, the ise ebi presents the Australian western rock lobster as freshly sliced sashimi, and also in a donabe cooked with stock made from fish bones and prawn shells.

“Food wastage is a part of the cooking process, minimising wastage and practising sustainability in the kitchen is something I've been working towards ever since I started cooking,” head of Japanese culinary development and chef Lamley Chua tells Tatler Dining.

Many of the ingredients are also sourced directly from the 10,000 sq ft urban farm right outside. Food waste from the kitchen is turned into fertiliser for the farm.

The Japanese kappo restaurant also chooses suppliers which support sustainable farming, and it does not use any single-use plastics, using only biodegradable materials for single-use items when necessary.

Tatler Offer: HSBC card members who opt for the Oumi Omakase Menu from July 1 to August 31 will enjoy a 10 per cent discount*.

Oumi, 88 Market Street, 51-01, CapitaSpring, S(048948), +65 8518 3763

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5. Labyrinth

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Above Rojak

Chef-owner Han Liguang of Michelin-starred Labyrinth uses various approaches to minimise food wastage, including making stock from bones and vegetable stems.

“We look at the produce and see what we can do with it to elevate the dining experience,” he says. One of Labyrinth’s most interesting dishes, an edible red candle, is made entirely out of beef fat.

Parts of meat that are not served to customers are also used to make staff meals.

The neo-Singaporean restaurant famously sources its ingredients from local farms; even its tables, chopsticks and bowls are made from recycled local wood.

After being introduced to high-quality local produce in 2017, Han has shifted his focus to local produce. “From there, it just took off. I started believing more in environmental protection, recycling, usage of the produce, and educating my team to respect the produce that was grown by the farmers,” he says.

Tatler Offer: HSBC Visa Infinite card members who dine at Labyrinth from July 1 to August 31 will receive a complimentary welcome drink*. 

Read more: Han Liguang and Penk Ching: How 2 Singapore Chefs Left Banking for Culinary Adventures

$ $ $   |  

8 Raffles Avenue, #02-23 Esplanade Mall, S(039802)

6. Caviar

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Above Caviar

At Singapore’s first caviar-centred fine dining restaurant, ingredients are fully utilised as much as possible.

Caviar sous chef Joshua Hariharan says he ensures that every part of the ingredient down to fish offal can be used for each menu he plans. One way he uses fish offal and trimmings is to make them into Caviar’s very own garum sauce. Trimmings are also used together with braised shallots as garnish.

Having been introduced to sustainable food practices while working at Salted and Hung, Hariharan emphasises that sustainability is not only about reducing food waste but also being kinder to the planet through equipment choice. “These are the ethics which I have learned and still utilise in my kitchen to this very day,” he adds.

Tatler Offer: HSBC card members who dine at Caviar from July 1 to August 31 will receive a complimentary glass of champagne. To redeem this offer, please quote “HSBCxTatler” when making your reservation*.

Caviar, 390 Orchard Road, B1-07 Palais Renaissance, S(238871), +65 9888 1217

Owning an HSBC credit card—made from recycled plastic—is one step towards enjoying life’s privileges more sustainably and building a better food future. Sign up now and receive 35,000 air miles, S$200 cashback or Samsonite luggage as a welcome gift. You will also get exclusive access to the chefs’ exclusive and sustainable offers.

*The HSBC exclusive offers are subject to availability and the restaurants’ terms and conditions. Please check with the restaurants when booking

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