First Zero Waste restaurant opens in Sofia

Първият ресторант с нулев отпадък отвори врати в София
Photo: личен архив

Our daily choice to live in harmony with the planet may turn the only chance for its salvation – especially if we attract also other people through the results of our efforts. Shortly after the World Day for Environmental Protection we bring you the story of a young lady, who adopted the philosophy for Zero Waste and applied its principles in her newly opened restaurant.

Three years ago Blazhka Dimitrova opened a kitchen following two dreams she had – to offer catering with healthy food and to offer work to young people who have a certain problem. Making both come true, she headed for a new challenge and turned the place into a restaurant, which would make use of all its wastes.

“I turned the page when I realized how many wastes we generate each day”, Blazhka Dimitrova says. “We cook a lot of food, and that means we use lots of packs, we remain with fruit and vegetable peals, leftovers and wastes from the consumption of tea and coffee. That is why when we learned about the Zero Waste philosophy we decided to reconsider the way our kitchen works. We contacted suppliers who would bring us the ingredients unpacked – with no plastic packs. We started shopping with our own boxes and bags.”

The people working in Blazhka’s restaurant follow the five basic principles of the 0-Waste theory: give up what is not necessary; reduce consumption; choose multiple-use items; separate for recycling; compost wastes. They share that for the time being they are nearly 99 percent successful, and what little garbage they are left with, they collect in the separate containers. Furthermore, they have their own composter, which turns biological leftovers, tissue paper bits mixed with wooden chips and dried flowers, into fresh soil for new plants. “We have on our things-to-do list to make our own garden, to come even closer to closing the cycle and rely on our own production, fertilized with soil that we make on our own”, Blazhka Dimitrova says.

However, how does the first Zero-Waste restaurant in this country differ from other restaurants in its approach to food?

“Part of the philosophy we follow is to use the entire product. There are many examples round the world, where chefs prepare gourmet dishes even from vegetable peals. We, for example, make chips from the potato and zucchini peels. Or, if we have bought a larger quantity of a product, which we have not made use of during the day, the next we introduce it into a new, creative dish.”

For the time being, the idea of the restaurant is well accepted by the clients. “I don’t know whether this is the right term, but we are trying to, sort of ‘educate’ them, to change their approach to food and show them there are other ways of cooking and living”, Blazhka Dimitrova further explains.

“The kitchen, as I still call the restaurant, made its start as an opportunity for young people in a disadvantaged position or such that have grown up in social institutions, orphanages, or have a certain disability. For these three years since our “Blagichka – Zero Waste” idea exists, about a dozen of young people have passed through our kitchen. Currently we have a deaf boy working with us as an assistant chef. Soon a young man in a wheel chair will start work here. On the other hand, a 19-year-old girl, who has grown up without parents and has been working at the kitchen for quite a while, is now manager and runs the restaurant whenever I am away”, Blazhka Dimitrova says.

English version: Iva Letnikova

Photos: Private library

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