One of Matt Stone’s favourite TED Talks is by Sir Ken Robinson, ‘school is killing creativity’, and so it’s not surprising that Australia’s hottest young chef has been working in the industry since he was just 15. Matt will be turning up the heat at TEDxAuckland this weekend, and armed with pioneering experience and a bold sense of adventure, this eco-warrior will challenge industry to go where very few have gone before.
Says Matt, “Being sustainable is something I grew up with as my family has always been environmentally conscious. And then when I became a chef the desire to get the freshest food possible naturally complemented this mindset, because freshest is always the tastiest.”
At just 23 Matt Stone joined forces with Greenhouse restaurant creator Joost Bakker, a builder and environmentalist that has taken rooftop farming to unprecedented heights. The Greenhouse in Perth aims to harness the growing understanding of the human footprint to offer alternative solutions that tread a fine balance between functionality, sustainability and beauty. Australia’s first all-recycled restaurant, it is a place where foodies can touch natural materials, understand where everyday fresh food comes from, and taste food straight from the garden. It’s not uncommon for foodie fans to book their table months in advance, while others join queues that snake around the corner, testament to the popularity of their values, “If it can’t be sourced locally, it’s not on the menu.”
Matt Stone now acts as Executive Chef overseeing all Greenhouse kitchens, and he is currently based at pop up restaurant Stanley St Merchants in Sydney’s IconPark, the world’s first crowd funded restaurant. The entrepreneurial start-up was crowd-sourced from 830 backers to fund the new restaurant concept to a tune of AU$281,370. There is nothing commonplace about Matt’s menus, with return customers coming back for items that include spicy crisped crickets and foraged wood sorrel on a snappy mix of fermented vegetables.
Balancing social impact with profit is the million dollar question, and proving to both industry and customers that little things go a long way will be crucial in moving the dial in food sustainability.
Says Matt, “Tools such as compost machines and Juggler milk systems are all quite new on the market, but prices will go down with demand, and governments could play a leadership role in this by offering incentives. We also serve sparkling water on tap, we don’t take any plastics, and our Brothel restaurant in Melbourne receives food straight from the farms in crates, all of our grains and seeds come in reusable glass jars, and all of the milks comes in 20 litre containers that goes back to the dairy.”
When asked how he feels about the impact of beef consumption on climate change, he said that most of the time he uses kangaroo instead, citing that they’re probably the most sustainable meat you can eat in Australia; wild, extremely healthy and readily available. Matt keeps his creative juices flowing by exploring in his own backyard, and travelling to international events where he connects with many of the best minds in the business.
“Spending time with these chefs at the top of their game, and then applying new techniques and methods to my philosophies is always helpful, but the environment is really the most inspiring; exploring the coast and foraging for beach herbs, seeing what is in season, and being driven by the motivation to use absolutely everything. I just love feeding people, especially when my conscience is clear – because I know the meal was produced in the most ethical way.”
Matt Stone is no stranger to awards, and his many accolades include Gourmet Traveller’s prestigious Best New Talent Award 2011 and West Australia’s Good Food Guide’s Best Young Chef 2011. He also has his own TV show, Aussie Recipes that Rock, a series that is aired in over 40 countries.
“The challenge is taking the things you can get and turning it into something delicious.”
Jamie Joseph is blogging at riseandflow.net – movement.culture.mindset.