Josh Eggleton: meat as the side dish

Our campaign partner, the Sustainable Restaurant Association, talked to culinary superstar Josh Eggleton of Great British Menu fame about his new venture, Root, in Bristol’s Cargo complex

Beetroot with hazelnut, blackberry and pine — just one of the dishes available at Root

Josh attended our April dinner, and we are so happy to see him embrace the Future Plates concept so wholeheartedly!

But don’t take it from us — listen to Josh about why he’s excited about this new way of cooking:

“I absolutely love vegetables, and while it never happens, if I was at home for a whole week I’d eat meat maybe once and fish one night too. The rest of the time I would make myself fantastic veg dishes.

I really wanted to create something new. I’ve done sustainable fish and chips and we’ve been doing fried chicken. I think we’re now ready for something a bit more radical.

We’re turning things upside down a bit with the menu at our new restaurant. It’s going to have ten vegetable-based dishes and then you’ll be able to add a side of meat or fish.

“Hopefully, just having meat and fish on the side will get people thinking and realising that they don’t need meat with everything to make a delicious meal”.

My head chef Rob, from the Pony & Trap, is so excited about this. As a chef, this is an amazing opportunity. It’s astronomical the amount of things you can do with veg — you can be so much more creative. Anyone can whack a bit of meat on the grill but to cook a really nice looking, delicious vegetable dish takes a lot more skill and thought. So the main veg dishes will cost more than the meat sides which will only be £3.50.

It gets my goat when people question how much vegetarian dishes cost — I mean have you any idea how long it takes to make something like pumpkin ravioli?

I’ve always liked dishes that focus on one main ingredient, so we’ll be doing that with these small plate dishes — using fabulous fresh produce like the best carrots or cauliflower and creating dishes around them. There’s nothing like restricting the menu to make a chef even more ingenious! I really hope people appreciate the time, effort and creativity that goes into these dishes.

There might be some people who say that it’s just a gimmick. Frankly, I don’t care. I’d just tell them to come and try it.

This absolutely is not about fine dining. It’s the sort of place I would like to eat in, and I can see plenty of meat eaters wanting to come and try it too.

The message is going to be simple: eat less meat. This is absolutely not for vegetarians, but for the love of vegetables.