16 Nov Guest Post: Elysia’s happy afterlife
The is a guest post by Sophie Andre, the founder of Elysia Catering. We met at the time of our respective launches and found we shared a love of beautiful products made with food otherwise wasted.
The Elysian Fields were a blissful place where Ancient Greeks went for a happy afterlife in Greek mythology. Elysia believes our magnificent food deserves the same treatment and so we create beautiful breakfasts and aperitifs using high quality surplus foods from London artisans.
I was previously working for a charity in Ohio, USA that helped young homeless people. I met a brilliant entrepreneur, Joe Deloss, who launched a trendy roast chicken restaurant employing people with high barriers to employment. The idea is simple, yet brilliant, and incredibly successful. I was inspired to create a social enterprise that would provide sustainable income to young people.
When I came to London [Ed: Sophie is from France] I decided to create a business supplying companies with breakfasts and canapés made with high quality food from local suppliers. Whilst researching ingredients, I visited a lot of markets and my eyes were opened to the problems of food waste – not just the environmental and financial costs, but the emotional impact on small producers having to throw away perfectly edible food. Even with high quality ingredients and artisanal care, some things don’t end up exactly perfect or there may be surplus due to last minute order cancellations or fewer customers visiting on a given day.
For example, I met the quality manager of a very fine cheesemonger in London who explained that clients expect cheese to have a consistent appearance. In most cheeses there will be some cosmetic imperfections – a hole, texture caused by moisture or cracks under the rind due to the maturing process – and that part of it cannot be sent to restaurants and other clients. It may be used as grated cheese but in many cases it is wasted. We buy those offcuts, paying a reduced price that allows us to make a profit and ensures the producer can cover their costs with a small margin. We dice them and serve with delicious surplus sourdough bread, broken chickpea crispbreads and “wonky” sun-kissed tomatoes.
We work with with several community organisations such as the Prince’s Trust to train young people in marketing and sales. After working with us for 2-years, we hope to support them to develop their own franchises of Elysia and help ensure more surplus food can enjoy a better afterlife.