Feature - Chewing The Fat - Doug McMaster

Feature – Chewing The Fat – Doug McMaster

For the latest instalment of our Chewing the Fat series, we chat with Doug McMaster, of Silo, who has worked in some of the world’s finest restaurants.

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Tell us about your background:

I spent six years cooking in some of the United Kingdom’s best restaurants, including St John Bread and Wine. This led on to working my way around the best restaurants in the world, gaining knowledge and experience that has developed into a unique cooking style.

I took the title of Britain‘s Most Irreverent Young Chef at the Young British Foodies in London in 2012 and also won BBC Young Chef of the Year 2009.

I opened Silo by Joost in Melbourne in 2012 and now have opened a UK-based Silo in Brighton.

What is your favourite food memory?

Eating at St John, Noma, and Mugaritz restaurants. They exemplify important ideas, with meticulous craft and attention. Their contemporary approach allowed my mind to open, question the status quo, and express my thoughts through the medium of food.

If I had to pick one particular eating “moment”, I would have to say the first time I ate the Blood Cake and Duck Egg’ at St John Bread and Wine. Creating something so delicious from something so taboo…Genius!

Silo focusses on creating a zero-waste environment.

Silo focusses on creating a zero-waste environment.

What are your favourite ingredients and cooking techniques?

I still find the versatility of onions a joy. I’m currently dabbling in dehydrated onion powder as a seasoning. Freshly-milled wheat is a world unto its own, in the same way wine and coffee are such vast subjects, the world of milling shouldn’t be underestimated. As for techniques, I’m ever-curious about the liquor created from hydrating de-hydrated food. For example, we are dehydrating parsnips, then re-hydrating them in apple juice – creating a liquid that is truly delicious and unique.

"We choose food sources that respect the natural order, allowing ingredients to be themselves without unnecessary processing."

“We choose food sources that respect the natural order, allowing ingredients to be themselves without unnecessary processing.”

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I would love to have different Silo “satellites” across Brighton: a Silo urban cheese room that creates all its cheese from milk that would have otherwise been wasted; a bean-to-bar chocolate shop that has cacao pods delivered by carbon zero transport; a wine bar that has no wine bottles (all straight from the barrel); a coffee roastery that is powered by bio-fuel created from coffee waste… and all done with zero waste.

I have this idea of a small-scale city food system that can demonstrate how a cleverly-conceived set of businesses could generate a whole food system that supports the surrounding eco-systems while nourishing the masses. This probably won’t happen in five years, but I can dream.

Silo, 39 Upper Gardner Street, North Laine, Brighton BN1 4AN

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Originally printed in the Brighton & Hove Independent Friday 16th Jan 2014