Well Spent on Upcycled Foods

Forking out money to ingest recycled food wastes seems like an uncanny notion. How can scraps of unwanted by-products of foodstuffs even be considered palatable, or can be made digestible to begin with? These were sensible and logical questions that came to mind when I first caught wind of the WellSpent programme, which is an ongoing food sustainability initiative by At-Sunrice Globalchef Academy. Curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to find out more.

Upcycled food utilises ingredients that are otherwise tossed away and not consumed. Every year, about 750 million kilograms of food waste is generated annually just in Singapore alone. More than 40% of that food waste can effectively be upcycled and re-used. Many are great sources of prebiotics and fibre, which aid and assist in healthy digestion. They are procured using verifiable food supply chains from industry partners. Examples of upcycled food ingredients include side streams such as eggshells, ground coffee beans, okara (soy pulp), fish bones, prawn shells, moromi (by-product from soy sauce production), coconut residue, fruit rind peels, tea leaves and spent barley.

At-Sunrice’s Open Sesame Manager Mr Roy Rivera says, “WellSpent is the sustainability initiative of At-Sunrice by upcycling ‘high-touch, high-waste’ side streams that would have otherwise been discarded and thrown away. Our development chefs did extensive research and created dishes using these upcycled ingredients that not only taste good, but also provide essential nutrients. Launching a thematic Sunday Luxe event allows us to share our vision and promote this initiative through our produce market, high-tea sessions, hawker stalls and chef curated dinners. We also have our take away option on our sister site ‘Gourmet2Go’ which delivers our WellSpent products straight to consumers over at their homes and offices.”

For the very first installation of this year’s Sunday Luxe Series, the spotlight has returned back to At-Sunrice’s signature WellSpent event that has been created by the academy as part of their “Sustainability with No Waste” initiatives that are woven through a series of innovative experiences, and centered around the joyous Chinese New Year festive seasonal theme. Visitors and guests got the chance to experience and immerse themselves on an educational exploration on food upcycling through various hands-on activities and professional demonstrations with the use of spent ingredients that promote a healthy gut and are environmentally sustainable.

Classes include learning to make three types of sumptuous and savoury traditional Chinese New Year steamed cakes, as well as roasted pork belly with orange marmalade and moromi. My personal favourite class was the hands-on baking class where participants were taught to make cashew butter cookies with okra flour and marmalade consisting of upcycled mandarin orange peels. Kids are also not left out as the children got a chance to be kept occupied with an enriching workshop where they were guided step-by-step to learn how to turn upcycled food ingredients into healthy, tasty and nutritious muesli granola bars.

As the main highlight of the WellSpent event, guests were ushered over to the academy’s cozy library lounge, where we indulged our gastronomical appetites with a smorgasbord of delightful high tea treats which featured a variety of WellSpent inspired hors-d’œuvre and canapés that are specially curated and exquisitely prepared by Chef Kelly and Chef Wei Qiang with the help and support of the faculty staff members and students of the school. Accompanied with good company and alongside unlimited servings of premium coffee and tea, we slowly relished and feasted on Crispy Slow-cooked Pork Belly served with Orange Peel Marmalade and Citrus Salad, Moromi Sandwich with Smoked Salmon and Truffle Cream, as well as the Coffee Tori Karaage served with Shaoxing Wine Foamwhich resembled a beautiful large piece of black truffle.

Particularly delicious were the Golden Corn Chowder Cheese Soup with Vegetable Pomace Crisp, as well as the Longevity Noodles with Spicy ExCoo Sauce & Crabmeat that had a right balance of texture, spice and umami oomph. For sweet endings, the delectable Ondeh Ondeh Okara Cake and the 24K gold dusted Chocolate Pomace Truffles both passed the mark with flying colours. The modest Moromi Breadsticks do not look that visually appealing or appetising in appearance, but what they lack in aesthetics, they more than made up for in both flavour and mouth feel. The breadsticks tasted very much like savoury cheese biscuits and started to grow on me the more that I munched on them.

Right after filling up our bellies, we shopped for freshly baked viennoiserie and patisserie at the produce market outside, as well as bought take-away food from the Hawker Culture 21© food stalls. Featuring 29 amazing novel hawker dishes created from spent ingredients that are naturally loaded with fibre and micronutrients that protect our gut health, the hawker stalls offer traditional Singapore hawker food alongside Western choices that come served and packed in environmentally friendly, compostable, biodegradable and recycled bamboo paper packaging. The dry laksa came highly recommended by the school’s marketing director and I must say that it did not disappoint at all. I packed home both the dry laksa and the dry noodles for my mother who gamely finished up every morsel of the two noodle dishes, and gave them both two thumbs up.

To find out more, and to attend future WellSpent or Sunday Luxe Series events, please go to: https://at-sunrice.com/

To order WellSpent food products delivered to your doorstep, please go to: https://takeout.at-sunrice.edu.sg/

Photos: Luke Elijah

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