Birmingham’s first ever Disco Soup.

16th May 2019

1/3 of all food produced for human consumption ends up as waste.

What do you get when you put 5 chefs, 272.5kg of vegetables (some of which you see above), a community cinema, great songs and 70 young people together?

A Disco Soup, of course! 

We gathered at the Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen for a night of food and fun on Friday 27 April 2018. And even as the event lead, I was unsure how things would pan out.

Did people care about the global food waste crisis as much as me?

Would people find the film, Sustainable, as life-changing, as I did? (we re-screened it as we sold out of tickets in January)

Could we save, cook and eat enough meals, not only for ourselves but also for a local homeless shelter and other community kitchens?


The answer to all of this, pure and simply was a resounding YES!

We chopped, we cooked, we ate all in the name of Good, Clean and Fair food for all.

With the help of The Real Junk Food Project Birmingham (a social enterprise who collect surplus food from supermarkets and wholesale markets and cook meals and create food boxes with)…

We collected broken Easter eggs to create a decadent chocolate mousse, using aquafaba – the liquid from drained chickpeas, which was accompanied with mangos.

The chickpeas made a delicious hummus and accompanied yogurt Labna in which we dipped raw veg and crackers made from the spent grains from beer making.

We peeled potatoes for our veggie frittata, and deep fried potato the skins (one of my personal favorites!)


With another medley of vegetables, a gorgeous Indian curry was produced, which was made using surplus allotment produce. Varieties of stir-fries, Thai curries, pasta dishes and cold salads were lovingly put together with a mix of ingredients. We even stir-fried some iceberg lettuce!

Anything that didn’t make it into one of these, was popped into a Green Soup and served with bread, donated by a famous Birmingham baker.

All up we made about 150 meals.


I know what you’re thinking! Only one of these dishes is soup, why was your event called a Disco Soup!

Well, “Disco Soup” originated in Germany and is now a global SFYN event. ‘Soup’ in German translates better to mean a mix of things and in a Disco Soup setting, it means using what you have!

Our recipes were put together by a fabulous team of community chefs, who knew they would have to very flexible with their concoctions, as The Real Junk Food Project Brum couldn’t guarantee what food we would receive from collections that week.

And that’s sort of the same for me each week when I stare into my fridge. (This is affectionally called “Fridge Foraging” and we should all be doing this before we buy more food each week.) I may well have a weird mix of fruits, vegetables, and grains, which don’t really seem to fit together. But, a girls got to eat! So I can think back to the Disco Soup, and recreate one of these recipes to use up, not throw out, what is in my fridge.

I co-run a blog, A Zero Waste Life. I am an environmental and food activist who thinks it’s diabolical to allow any edible food go to waste.

I was naive enough to think I was one of the only ones who held this idea in Birmingham, In the UK as we have no food waste collection service, and out fast food chains are booming with trade.

Slow Food has shown me differently. A hell of a lot of people care. They all made a powerful protest by chopping, eating and dancing together last Friday.

Watch out, Birmingham, a food revolution is cooking!


Note: Charlotte Watkivs is the leader of the new Slow Food Youth Network Birmingham. Their next event is a Sour Dough Workshop – see here for more information. 

Slow Food Youth Network held almost 100 Disco soups around the world over the weekend of 27/28th April, SFYN Brum is one of several groups in the UK. 


We would like to thank Ro Alvarez for the brilliant design of the Disco Soup poster and Hobbs Birmingham for printing our flyers, that made their way to every corner of Birmingham and undoubtedly assisted in the success of the event. We also want to thank Change Kitchen, Kitchen Food School, Artisan Epicurean, The Pink Cook, and Balbir Currie (keep an eye out for workshops with these cooks soon) for being able to think on their feet when faced with an amazing array of surplus veg.    


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