Aside from the warm fuzzy feeling you’d gain from doing something tangible to tackle a world issue, battling food waste could spell business success. Meet Hannah McCollum - London based food entrepreneur who is changing attitudes towards food waste. By recycling imperfect vegetables that would usually be considered waste, into award-winning, super sustainable hummus, ChicP is trying to make a difference to the worldwide issue.
Hannah's biggest motivator is highlighting the blight of food waste in the food industry – over forty per cent of British crops are rejected because of their shape or size and a whopping 1/3 of food we produce in the UK is never eaten. Hannah wants ChicP to reflect values which will change that.
To hear more about ChicP’s philosophy and the secret ingredient that supermarkets don’t want to sell, we caught up with her at Rude Health Cafe, Fulham and in her home kitchen where we got an insight into some unseen recipe development.
SO WHEN WAS THE LIGHTBULB MOMENT TO START CHICP?
“I was always creating dips and hummus from leftovers both at home and with my private clients. While working for catering companies, at the end of each day I would watch horrified, as all remaining food was thrown away and decided there and then that I didn’t want to work in an industry where such wastefulness was routine.
“I realised that there was very little healthy and sustainable hummus available or one that was made from excess vegetables, which is when I put two and two together and set up ChicP in 2015 using vegetables that would otherwise be thrown away. I hope that, in however small a way, I can make people more aware of our food waste problem with my brand.”
TALK US THROUGH THE PROCESS OF COLLECTING THE SURPLUS VEG TO SELLING IT IN THE BEAUTIFUL CHICP POTS?
“When ChicP first started three years ago, I would drive to New Covent Garden Market at the crack of dawn, raid the large grey bins of vegetables which hadn’t made the grade, and from the dribs and drabs available (which amounted to a large quantity), blend them into hummus. But now, because I’m working on a much larger scale and they need to be thoroughly cleaned, we’re getting second grades from British farmers which go into wholesale.”
WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE WAY TO SERVE HUMMUS?
“I actually prefer incorporating hummus into a meal rather than eating it as a dip. I eat it as a side with couscous or salads, and end up mixing it in so that it becomes like a dressing. It’s great because it’s a vegan alternative as most dressings contain dairy.”
WHAT'S THE VEGETABLE YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT?
“Sweet potato is a winner really, I think it’s probably a lot of people’s favourites too! I love baking it whole then stuffing it with pesto, chickpeas and spices. (Or making wedges and dipping them in hummus.)”
TOP TIPS ON HOW TO TACKLE FOOD WASTE AT HOME?
“Firstly, don’t go by the shelf life dates on the products because manufacturers have to put that on - it’s absolute rubbish! Use your senses, if it doesn’t look or smell edible, then don’t eat it. You’ve probably got at least five days past the sell by date.”
“Freeze it! Even if it’s got one day shelf life left, just freeze it!”
“Roast everything that’s excess; I roast my fish skins which are delicious; be creative with what you’ve got!”
WHO DO YOU ADMIRE MOST IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY?
“Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall is great, he’s wholesome, British and has done an amazing job in terms of trying to educate people about using their own produce, buying when in season, sourcing local fresh produce and reducing waste without too much stigma around it.”
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE - DOES YOUR ZERO WASTE ETHOS REFLECT YOUR PERSONAL CLOTHING STYLE?
“Wholesome, sustainable, British and unique; I don’t like buying from high street shops so you’ll never find me browsing in Topshop. I prefer items that you can’t find anywhere else - wearing something which I know everybody else has isn’t really my thing. I love simple items that aren’t too out there… but have a twist.”
“Like my produce, I don’t like throwing away and wasting clothes. I would rather buy better quality garments so they will last a long time.”
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE FOR ANYONE STARTING THEIR OWN COMPANY?
“Make sure you have an idea that stands out and is special. You’ve really got to check out your competitors because so many markets are already very saturated. Most of all, start something that you’re not going to get bored of doing every day.”
WHAT'S NEXT FOR CHICP?
“I would love to have a ChicP surplus hummus cafe - that’s the aim! The menu would feature a rotation of different hummus options probably on a daily basis and would be served as the toppings on different salads. Soho would definitely be the place for it.”
“I’ve also got a new product I’m trying out at the moment: it’s not a smoothie, it’s not a drink and it’s not hummus, so keep an eye out over the next few months!”
Keep your eyes peeled for our new women's spring summer collection, launching 8th February. All available now on pre-order