It was under his Mum’s supervision in a Blackpool family-run bed and breakfast that Tom Fletcher learnt to cook.
But it was in Hackney Wick, just a five minute bike ride away from New Spitafields Market, the capital’s main supplier of fruit and vegetables, that Fletcher set up his Rejuce business.
He offers an alternative means of dealing with food waste while at the same time producing healthy fruit and veg drinks.
Fletcher started his career working in restaurant kitchens but says he always aimed higher and he started looking at the ethics surrounding catering during his studies for a business degree.
He says: “I decided to start working, not necessarily with better chefs in the sense of what they were cooking, the appearance and the taste, but chefs interested in the food they were serving and in food production.”
Food waste is a subject that has preoccupied Fletcher, who saw his Masters in Environment and Politics as the excuse to research the issue.
One study in 2010 estimated that 400,000 tons of fresh fruit and vegetables are wasted each year.
Although Fletcher says the biggest proportion of food waste is “in people’s bins at home”, he adds that the “biggest physical bin itself” is at New Spitalfields Market on a daily basis.
“It is a big issue for the people in the market and they feel massively guilty about it,” says Fletcher. “But it is just that they don’t have any technology or any better way of doing it. The easiest solution is to fit within the existing model without changing everybody’s practices.”
That is how Rejuce came about in 2012. Fletcher decided to take some of the daily unsold fruit and vegetables off the hands of the market traders and turn them into juices.
His favourite juice recipe combines apples, pears, parsnips, sage and lime, resulting in an interesting sweet and sour flavour.
The way he sources his ingredients allows him to sell them affordably.
A 250ml juice costs £1.50 at the Counter Café in Wick.
Fletcher says he has been surprised when traders and festival organizers have asked him to increase prices. Fletcher refuses, preferring to stick to already healthy margins whilst undercutting the market and ensuring he sells through.
The first rule of trading law is never to sell out. This doesn’t apply to Fletcher’s view on catering ethic, which doesn’t see sell out as a wasted opportunity to do more business but as a successful way to minimise food waste.