Top food waste reduction tips from Luke at Luke's Kitchen

Luke Reilly of Kuaotunu's Luke's Kitchen shares his top tips for cutting down on the amount of food we throw away, plus, a great recipe for Luke’s Kitchen Pickle.

Luke Reilly of Luke's Kitchen

Iconic Kuaotunu cafe Luke’s Kitchen is all about making pizza not war, but they’re also focussed on making pizza without food waste.

Owner Luke Reilly says the kitchen started composting its food waste at the local Kuaotunu Food Forest last summer.  Ingrid Kregting, who cooks at Luke’s Kitchen, built compost bins at the community garden.

“We actually used broken bits of timber off my house to build them,” says Luke.

“Minimising food waste is really important to us. They say you can measure the success of a place by how little food it wastes, I guess it’s just like throwing away money,” says Luke

It’s the same principle for holiday makers on the Coromandel over summer.

“Most people stock-up on food before they arrive. Then they go fishing and catch more food. Then they go out for dinner one or two nights and suddenly there’s all this food they need to get rid of before they head home.”

“You can see how easily it happens. I guess it comes down to a little bit of planning.”

In the restaurant Luke says they make delicious pickles with vegetable offcuts and pesto when there is a glut of produce. Ideally though, they manage what they buy, so food waste is kept to a minimum.

 “Everyone forgets but I’d say try your best to have a meal plan when you go food shopping. A little bit of planning can go a long way to reducing your food waste.”

This summer the restaurant is also selling pizza dough.

“We make our pizza fresh, but if you do have leftovers, pizzas also happen to be a great way to use them up,” says Luke.

Put a pizza stone on your barbecue, turn it to the highest heat with the hood down, and get creative with whatever is in your fridge.

Luke’s tips

  • Get a garden going and compost your left-over fruit and vegetable scraps. Find more information here
  • Everyone forgets but try your best to have a meal plan when you go food shopping. A little bit of planning can go a long way to reducing your food waste.
  • Fry or smoke your snapper frames and make stock or a soup or use the mobile app, Free Fish Heads, to find someone who wants your frames. Don’t dump them.

 Luke’s Kitchen Pickle

Luke's Pickle

This pickle recipe is incredibly versatile and can be adjusted depending on your taste. Like a sweeter pickle? Throw some more sugar in. Want to make it a bit funkier? Add some star anise, cloves or a knob of ginger!

1 cup vinegar

1 cup water

Salt and sugar to taste

1 teaspoon of mustard seeds

1 bay leaf

One lemon sliced

A few peppercorns

At Luke’s we love to pickle cucumber, carrot ends, coriander stalks, radish’s, onions, celery and any other vegetables that don’t quite make the cut for a salad but are delicious pickled.

Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to the boil until sugar and salt dissolve. Place vegetables in a jar or airtight container and pour your pickling liquid over top.

Luke’s Kitchen Pizza Pesto!

This is another super versatile recipe that can be adjusted to different batch sizes, taste preferences and what you have in the fridge. Nailing the correct ratio is an epic way to ensure you always get a good result no matter what your batch size.

3 cups of greens (Luke’s uses watercress but try out different combinations. Throw some basil and broccoli stalks together)

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 cup nuts (Luke’s uses roasted cashews)

Extra virgin olive oil to combine (up to 2 cups)

Lemon juice to taste

Salt and pepper to taste.

In a food processor blitz your fresh greens with a little oil until you have a smooth paste. When your greens are well blitzed, add your cheese and nuts then slowly add the rest of your oil until it’s the consistency you desire. Hit it with a splash of lemon juice and salt and pepper at the end.