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King of Leftovers

THE ONLY WAY IS RECYCLING: Jordan will cook anything if it’s edible

WASTING FOOD and unhealthy eating are some modern-day habits chef Shane Jordan is trying to break by sharing his culinary knowledge.

The 28-year-old from Bristol, southwest England, who calls himself the “King of Leftovers”, says it is important to be educated in order to make the most of our diets.

His new book, Food Waste Philosophy, the “memoir slash recipe book”, sets out Jordan’s vision on every stage of the cooking process, using everything edible, and responsibly disposing of inedible parts of the food.

“My core principle is that if you’ve got food, just cook. If it’s edible, make a meal from it. If it’s inedible, you compost it,” Jordan told The Voice.

“It’s the ‘permaculture philosophy’ [sustainable agricultural system] where whatever you’ve got, nothing is wasted, because you can always find something to do with it.”

A vegetarian himself, the young chef specialises in whipping up non-meat meals and vegan delights; a dietary choice, he said, that leads to a more healthy life.

“I became a vegetarian for health reasons. At the time I was playing a lot of basketball and I watched a documentary that said if you have more vegetables in your diet you feel lighter – I wanted to be lighter and more active as a basketball player,” he explained.

“So I slowly started to reduce the meat, I started by eliminating red meat and moved on to white meat like chicken and fish, and then began removing that. When it became just vegetables I felt a lot better.

“I didn’t do it for animal rights reasons; I did it for pure health, really.”

Despite cooking mainly with vegetables, the Bristol-born chef who was raised by his Jamaican mother says his aim is to ensure his meals can please every palate, even those with allergies.
Jordan said he admired the work chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey have done, particularly their respective TV shows involving schools and prisons.

Oliver led a national campaign to improve the diet of schoolchildren, while Ramsey visited the prisons to teach inmates to cook in Bad Boys Bakery, an offshoot of his Channel 4 programme Gordon Behind Bars.

“Those two things I respected,” said Jordan, who works as a freelance chef and assistant teacher.
“But I’m not a fine dining chef. I work in an environment where if you’re going to cook something for someone they want to be filled up, not something that’s small,” he added.

Nonetheless, parallels to Oliver are apparent.

Before the age of 23, when he decided to take up cooking as a profession, he spent his formative years working in schools “with sports and youth work.”

For Jordan, having to balance the kitchen and the classroom is a perfect opportunity to blend the two. As a volunteer he gives talks to schoolchildren about healthy eating.

How did he find the time to write a book, travel across the southwest cooking and teaching?

ORGANISED

“I’m very organised, and that’s it really,” he said.

Jordan acknowledged the substantial task ahead in changing people’s eating habits for the better. It is a challenge the government are all too aware of because of the spiralling cost of obesity to the taxpayer.

In March, public health ministers said in a report that “in England, most people are overweight or obese.”

The study titled, Reducing obesity and improving diet, found that 61.3 per cent of adults and 30 per cent of children aged between two and 15 are clinically overweight or obese.

The report concluded: “Health problems associated with being overweight or obese cost the NHS more than £5 billion every year.”

Jordan believes that much of the problem is because of big portion sizes and people “consuming too much processed red meat.”

And for perceptions to shift, Jordan argues it could be done through a combination of better TV cookery shows and more individuals volunteering in the community and schools.

Leading the way as an example, such as his work with the government-led initiative, Love Food, Hate Waste, Jordan said: “I’m a young black male doing something which is not seen as much, but it’s nice for people to step up and do some work in their community and make it fun.”

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