FOR Alain Job, it’s a necessity to save money in the kitchen while still cooking up flavourful foods.
Lucky for him then that it’s also a way of life – a way of cooking drummed into him at an early age back in his home country of Cameroon.
Waste not, want not: Chef Alain Job at the Melting Pot Cafe in the Sycamore Community Centre, St Ann’s.
Mr Job works today as chef at the Melting Pot Café in Sycamore Community Centre, Hungerhill Road, St Ann’s.
And in a couple of weeks he’ll open Nkono, a business in Victoria Centre Market specialising in Cameroonian cuisine.
He already runs Nkono as a catering and special events business.
Running a community cafe kitchen and setting up his own business means Mr Job must be frugal without letting taste and flavour suffer.
By following the cookery philosophy of his homeland, he can do that.
“Quite frankly, I save enormously,” he said.
“We’re saving the cafe about £20 to £26 a week. That’s good when you’re considering the economic situation of the moment.”
Mr Job first learned smart, tasty cooking from one of the best cooks he’s known – his grandmother.
Young Alain was one of nine mouths his grandmother had to feed – food waste was not something she could afford.
“If she wasn’t very careful there was a greater likelihood the next day that there wouldn’t be much to eat,” Mr Job said.
“The leftovers were part of the strategy for her. She had various ways of dealing with it. One was adapting leftovers to new recipes and making them look totally like something fresh and new.”
The word “leftovers” was not one that was much used. Meals were always made to seem new and fresh.
“She did very cleverly adapt the leftovers to whatever she was cooking the next day to make it a new meal with a new experience,” he said.
“It gave the impression that we were having something new every day.”
It’s a lesson he remembered, and one he’s brought to his life as a chef.
Many of the methods he uses are not complicated.
When making a simple soup, he’ll chop vegetables and roast them in the oven.
The stems, stalks and bits he doesn’t use, he saves and wraps in foil. The following day, it often goes in curried mutton or goat.
“It brings the flavours of the roasting and the intense aroma into the curry goat or the curry mutton,” Mr Job said.
This is another trick that comes from his grandmother – although she used leaves rather than tinfoil.
“Whenever she had leftovers, she put them in the fresh leaves,” Mr Job said.
“Then she wrapped them very well. The next day she put them on a low heat to warm it while preserving all the flavours really slowly.
“The heat went through the leaves, or through the foil, and warmed the food enough.
“The food had already settled and was holding in all the flavour really well. Some people said it was better to eat then than when it was first cooked.”