This short film about Silo, the zero-waste restaurant by chef Douglas McMaster chronicles the difficult early years of the restaurant in Brighton since it opened in 2014.
Years ahead of its time, Silo forged a path to zero-waste fine dining, but it wasn’t easy, there were difficult times, uncertainty and a lot of trial and error.
In the new short film, “A Failure of the Imagination”, a project that was five years in the making, we learn of the difficulties McMasters and his team faced in trying to do something that hadn’t been done before. There was no zero-waste playbook to reference, so innovation drove everything at Silo. Innovation takes time and effort and a lot of failed ideas discarded, before finding something brilliant that works.
“The only way I could describe the early years of Silo is like moving through thick fog,” he says.
“No one had done it. It was going to be the hardest thing that I had ever done."
“The reality is that nature never gives the same thing twice."
“Farmers are not the most punctual people."
“We would have services where you were praying the farmer would come any second with those lettuces.”
Waste was the biggest enemy at Silo, ingredients had to be upcycled to create someting of greater value. It involved a lot of failed ideas.
“We tried to grow mushrooms from coffee waste. That didn’t work,” he said.
“We made our own soap."
“We even used a coconut to scrub dirty pans."
“That would be the process... failure, failure, failure, failure, sort of success, failure."
“We kept striking brilliant ideas but it would be one in 100.
“There’s only so many knocks you can take before waving the white flag.”
After three years Silo began to turn around, you could say the world caught up with McMaster. However, after so much hard work, the chef began to have concerns for the restaurant’s long-term future so a decision was made to leave Brighton and go to London.
“Change is slowing down,” said McMaster at the time.
“Silo is best when it’s evolving so the way to accelerate change is to start anew.
“It’s going to be extremely difficult to leave these four walls but it’s the next step.”