Creating and Cooking a Sustainable Supper

March 11, 2016

On 19th February, a University of Edinburgh Innovative Learning Week event took place ( involving 13 students and 3 members of staff.  We assembled at 10am on a cold, grey February morning with the task of cooking a sustainable, tasty, healthy meal for 70 people by 7pm that evening!   We had to work out what to cook, where to source the ingredients and how to organise ourselves to get the job done in time!   No pressure then.  Necessity is the mother of invention and we just got on with it!   The degree of cooperation and positivity was really amazing. It just shows how much we can achieve when we pull our efforts towards something we all believe in.

Also during the day we organised four visits to sustainable food retailers, restaurants and community gardens to hear about what sustainable food means to them and why it matters. These were: Breadshare Community Bakery in Portobello, New Leaf Cooperative in Bruntsfield,  the Royal Edinburgh Hospital Community Gardens in Morningside and Café St .Honoré on Thistle Street.  A massive thanks to all of these!  We got all our bread from Breadshare. We got some super fresh veggies, jam, cooking oil, eggs, spices, etc., from New Leaf and the Community Gardens. We dug up leeks and harvested kale that a few hours later was being cooked.  

Nearly everything we purchased was locally grown and organic, including the cooking oil (rape seed oil), though we purchased organic veg and herbs and spices that were not locally available (e.g. butternut squash, garlic, ginger, etc.).  At 3pm, we assembled in Old St. Paul’s church hall on Jeffery Street. This has a really super kitchen for cooking in. Very well equipped and lots of space for peeling, chopping, cutting and lots of hob space and ovens, etc.  Donna McArdle from the Real Junk Food Project Edinburgh was our head chef for the day and she was BRILLIANT. We are so grateful to her for her ability to manage everyone so calmly and confidently -  and to know how to cook!!!

The menu included two soups:   Butternut squash and carrot soup;  Jerusalem artichoke, leek and potato soups, with bread. So tasty and super healthy.  There were two main courses:  Chickpea & spinach curry;  potato and kale casserole;  accompanied by a kale, egg and honey mustard dressing salad.  For desert there was apple crumble with Scottish cream.  We enjoyed drinking beer from Barneys (based at Summerhall, Edinburgh),  Rhubarb and Thai Basil / Cucumber and Fennel Seed sodas from Leith-based Kitsch drinks, and organic wine from Vino.  

The evening included a launch of the FoodWise Scot web app and featured a talk by Gena Jain. The guests were a mixture of Edinburgh students and staff, those involved and interested in sustainable food issues who’ve contributed to FoodWise and members of the local community.

The event won the best Sustainability event of Innovative Learning Week 2016.   (

A huge thank to all those who helped make this such an enjoyable and stimulating day.  We hope to repeat it for next year. 

The event was made possible by funding from Innovative Learning Week, University of Edinburgh and FoodWise Scotland.   Credits for all photos:  Mihaela Bodlovic  (

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