Eatery where rejected veggies are the stars
Recess Time by The Theatre Practice is a pop-up lunch party in Waterloo Street that blurs the lines between art, food, life and social issues. (Photo: Practice Tuckshop)

Eatery where rejected veggies are the stars

Tucked away in Waterloo Street is a pop-up lunch party that has been attracting the brave and curious every fortnight.

The draw of Recess Time – its pay-as-you-wish, three-course lunch whipped up by guest chefs and home cooks. The catch: The meal is made with fruit and vegetables discarded by retailers.

Recess Time is no ordinary food event. It is part of the programme at Practice Tuckshop, a creative space run by homegrown theatre company The Theatre Practice, out of its shophouse home in Waterloo Street. At heart, it is a means for the power of storytelling to touch the lives of people who might otherwise not step foot into a theatre.

The drama that unfolds over lunch centres around the edible fruit and vegetables thrown out by retailers because they were blemished or in oversupply. Recess Time works with the volunteer group SG Food Rescue to salvage produce and turn it into tasty creations. The aim: to spark dialogue and raise awareness among diners about food wastage.

In Singapore, 763,000 tonnes of food waste was generated last year, a 34 per cent increase from 568,000 tonnes of food waste in 2008.

“It was very important to us that we demystified this idea of rescued produce being inferior,” says the Practice Tuckshop’s programming associate Sim Xin Yi. This misperception affects not only diners, but also cooks.

Ms Sim says that some guest chefs were originally sceptical about the quality of the rescued produce, but they all came through with creative, tasty dishes that won over diners.

Guest chef Muhammad Imran Sani, who has worked in kitchens around the world, including Dubai and Oman, was excited by the challenge of working with discarded produce. He came up with a contemporary, all-vegetarian menu that included choux gnocchi with plant-based meat ragout and a dessert with yuzu “caviar” made with molecular gastronomy techniques.

To further educate diners about food waste, a selection of the produce rescued each time is displayed in the tuckshop. “The response we get most often,” says Ms Sim, “is ‘Wah, like that so nice, throw away ah?’”

Staff also initiate conversation among guests by moving from table to table to encourage diners to swap stories about their memories of food. The anecdotes are captured in the Recess Time Journal for other guests to read, and unwittingly, diners become participants of an art-making process.

Indeed, the artful responses that Recess Time inspires proves that it offers a fresh take not just on discarded produce, but also the notion of what art is and how people can encounter it in their everyday.

Details about Recess Time here.

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