Dan the Man Cooking: making sustainability delicious

Dan the Man Cooking

This creative catering company uses left over coffee grounds for its coffee vinaigrette and herbs from the community garden. For Newscorp’s “zero waste” event, it designed a three-course meal using only five ingredients. Now they’re expanding to consulting, showing other companies how to reduce waste.

Two ideas drive sustainable catering and event company Dan The Man Cooking in Sydney.

  • First, every byproduct of one process can be a resource for another.
  • Second, luxurious and delicious catering can be a force for good.

“As soon as we looked at creative ways to reduce waste, the creativity affected other parts of the business,” Dan the Man’s managing director Ilana Cooper says.

“The key driver was to keep the diner at the centre of everything. So if you’re planning a complex event like a wedding, or something simpler like the flow of a corporate function, we always start with what will make the best experience for the eater.”

Dan the Man Cooking is the first and only catering company in Australia to be BCorp certified.

Food waste is wasted food

Food items that are normally wasted can add texture and flavour, as in these examples from the winter menu:

The whey byproduct of Dan the Man’s house made ricotta becomes the marinade base for whey and wine braised beef cheeks. It’s served with caraway roasted carrots, whose tops are the carrot top verde, and crispy peel.

We don’t just incorporate waste so it doesn’t go in the bin,” Ilana explains

Coffee vinaigrette, made from leftover coffee grounds, dresses the charred broccolini, cime di rapa, fennel and coriander seeds.

And some waste is completely irrational. The trout belly in Dan the Man’s house tea smoked trout, cured belly and cumquat for example is highly regarded in some countries but normally discarded in Australia. The team at Dan the Man thoughtfully incorporates the product in a dish that’s swimming in flavour and texture.

“We don’t just incorporate waste so it doesn’t go in the bin,” Ilana explains, “we think about our dishes creatively and how the ‘waste’ product could actually add significantly to the dish.

“Without it, the dish isn’t as interesting.”

Extra dividends from the “journey to zero”

What Ilana calls the company’s “journey to zero” touches every part of the business. “We use silicone sheets and bulldog clips instead of using cling wrap. We make teas from excess herbs from the community garden. We’re trying to go paperless – working with suppliers to only receive electronic invoices – though the paper is currently shredded for the chickens – it’s good bedding.”

Sharing the knowledge

Now Dan the Man is sharing the knowledge more widely.

Such as for Newscorp’s “zero waste” themed ninth birthday.

“We designed a three-course meal using only five ingredients. Canned chickpeas were in the main course, their juice went into a vegan meringue, and the cans were filled with rendered fat from the lamb we served to become table candles.

“We even used recycled Newscorp newspaper for tablecloths.”

“For Wildwon’s Purpose conference, they had organised filtered water stations, so we brought on a reusable cup supplier. We worked with them to have designated ‘bins’ for the various waste streams and composted what we could at a community garden.”

Now that the team has their thumb comfortably in the events pie, they’re expanding to consulting, offering to help businesses reduce waste across the board.

Maybe you could eliminate waste streams from your business by talking to Dan the Man.

Dan the Man

Service | Catering and Consulting | Sydney