Welcome to Mr Junk Food Chef! The name was adopted by accident through various interactions with people who knew of me but hadn’t met me before. They were introduced to me as ‘This is Adam Smith’, and they would be like ‘oh, you’re that junk food chef guy’. I just smiled and nodded in agreement, and thought, ‘why not just call myself that’. So here I am with my alias.
Mr Junk Food Chef does have a role to play. As a trained chef with experience working in kitchens across the world, and various consulting roles in catering establishments, I do have some knowledge of how the food world works. I am also the founder of The Real Junk Food Project (TRJFP), which intercepts and redistributes thousands of tons of surplus food every year, so I also have knowledge of the supply chain, waste management and very basic growing skills. So ‘Mr Junk Food Chef’ it is.
With the help of Amy Gumbrell, volunteer at TRJFP, and owner of Two Cows Web, we bring to you my shiny new website, and we thought what better way to kick it off than showing you one of the many dishes I create daily using surplus ingredients, and applying basic cooking techniques whilst also adopting a zero-waste approach to creating nutritious meals. I don’t believe in recipes, I believe in creativity and teaching people basic cooking techniques with some added tips of the trade.
Jackfruit and tofu curry, w/ garlic bread, rice and roasted pineapple
I always use leftover spices, herbs and vegetables to make quick pastes, which I either freeze down or jar up in the fridge. For this one, I blended some dried ginger, garlic bulb, chilli, turmeric powder, smoked paprika, some leftover tomatoes, coriander stalks, and the leftover coconut milk. I just whizzed them altogether with a full chopped white onion. Once blended to a fine paste, I warmed up a pan, added some fat (can be butter, oil or coconut oil), and placed all the paste in the pan to cook through. This releases all the flavour of the spices and gets rid of some of the harshness from the garlic and ginger.
Next, I chopped some leftover root veg; carrots, stalks of broccoli, parsnips, anything really that is hardy. You can add more onions, or leeks at this stage too. I keep them nice and chunky, so they don’t break up from the heat in the sauce. I also wash them, but don’t peel their skins…why waste the fibre? Add these vegetables to the paste, stir until they are coated. Then simply add any stock, tin of chopped tomatoes, and anything you wish to thicken the curry with. I used hummus, but you can use tomato paste, or any thickening agent. Bring to the boil. Simmer until tender.
Towards the end of the cooking, I added the tinned jackfruit and tofu, until both were hot in the middle. I then take the curry off the heat and leave with a lid on. At this stage I add my soft greens; coriander leaves, peas, spinach, small pieces of broccoli. I just want the residual heat to cook them through and wilt them without over cooking them on direct heat.
For the garlic bread. I simply butter some bread (G/f and vegan in this case), add some garlic (bulbs chopped, or sprinkle garlic salt on it), sprinkle over some chopped herbs (parsley, or coriander will suffice), and place under the grill until toasted.
Prepping a pineapple
I prepared the whole pineapple. First, chop off the bottom and top, so you have a flat surface to work with. Place on a chopping board and slice down the sides taking away the skin. The technique is to follow the line of the skin each time, as to not take away too much of the fruit. Once skinned, then chop in half and half again, down the middle. Removed the core from the quarters by simply cutting down each side. Lay each quarter flat on the side you have removed the core from, and simply slice into chunks. Place on a tray, add a bit of salt, and roast on a high heat until cooked to your desired taste.
Surely you don’t need me to tell you how to cook rice?
I love placing my cooked, steamed rice into a vessel to shape it. It’s a bad chef habit I can’t snap out of. Place your rice wherever you like on the plate, add the curry, sprinkle with pineapple and strategically place your garlic bread in a cheffy manner to make it look like it’s come straight out of a restaurant kitchen. Simple, nutritious, zero-waste, and any leftovers you can heat up and add to paste or use for lunch the following day.
This is designed to keep you up-to-date with all the events I speak at, the podcasts I perform on, and you can also book my time for various appointments such as consultancy, catering, and keynote speaker amongst other things. I’ll also be ranting on about environmental issues which I am passionate about, global food waste problems, supply chain relationships, and about the amazing work the team at TRJFP carry out daily to help save the planet.
Myself, and my co-author Nigel Stone, hope to have finished draft 3 of my soon-to-be published autobiography, in 2021. The book is a 3-part series made up of approximately 10 chapters each. The focus is on the main parts of my topsy-turvy life, including issues with mental health, experiences of suicide attempts, substance abuse, being a father, struggles with relationships, life as a founder and CEO and the constant battle with my ego and the media. It’s quite dark in places, and a roller coaster of emotions, with added funny parts to keep the spirits up. The whole intention behind the book was to tell my story. Also to hopefully inspire and empower those whom are in similar positions to where I was, onto a positive pathway out of them.
I’m controversial. I’m passionate about what I believe in. I speak from the heart. I’m autistic and suffered serious trauma in my childhood and early adult hood. I’m in therapy fortnightly. I have 2 beautiful children. I try to be as kind as possible and use the hashtag #Kindness when promoting TRJFP. First and foremost, I try to be kind to myself. I have adopted a plant-based diet (which I struggle with at times…keep me away from cheesecake!), and I work a lot on my mental health, always trying to be a better version of myself. I try to be kind to others, and when I can’t be kind, I ignore them or remove them from my life. Life is too short for toxicity!
Stubborn, difficult to be around at times, I see the world in black and white and struggle with grey areas (and grey people). I made a point to myself, that when I’m on my death bed (for the right reasons, not self-inflicted), and the lord asked me what I did with my life (as Whitney Houston once said), I will say… I tried to do the right thing.