The team behind Fed Square’s ambitious 87-square-metre home and urban farm Future Food System – eco-entrepreneur Joost Bakker and ex-Oakridge executive chefs Jo Barrett and Matt Stone – are bringing back Bakker’s soup kitchen, Brothl, for one day only this Friday.
“I get messages all the time from people asking when it’s coming back,” Bakker tells Broadsheet. “So here we are.”
It’s been six years since his zero-waste, “closed loop” Hardware Street cafe – with a focus on hearty, nutrient-rich broths – closed following a dispute with the council. Its resurrection, in pop-up form, is to celebrate the launch of Returnr Marketplace – “a game changer when it comes to zero waste”, says Bakker.
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The new Melbourne-based grocery- and booze-delivery service (with a difference) is the latest project by Keepcup co-founder Jamie Forsyth. It’s a members-only marketplace that allows you to order everything from fresh fruit and veg to wine, to be delivered in specially designed, reusable containers (which Forsyth calls “assets”). Once they’re empty, you simply leave them on your doorstep to be picked up when the next delivery is dropped off – à la the old milk-bottle system.
It’s stocked with loyally followed local brands such as Schulz Organic Dairy milk, Market Lane and Seven Seeds coffee, Prana Chai, Glou wine, Mount Zero Olives products, and Gewurzhaus spices, with hundreds more to be added. There’s also a low-price promise: Returnr will match or beat another retail price, so you don’t have to pay a premium for a more sustainable service. Better yet, the stainless-steel containers are a shortcut to an aesthetically pleasing pantry (you can finally put a stop to the Tupperware avalanche that happens every time you open the pantry – or is that just us?).
“The underlying point of the platform is that it’s zero waste, but a big part … is that it organises your pantry,” Forsyth tells Broadsheet. “When you get your containers, the idea is you put them directly in your pantry. They stack, they nest, they have function. Everything comes with a label system. It’s colour-coded and it looks really beautiful.
“It’s not like a library where you have to return a book in two weeks; you just return assets when you’re finished with them,” he continues. “So for a pre-made meal, you might be done with the asset that night, but you might have a shampoo in a pump bottle for six months.
“We want to make a real material difference to the waste that’s going into and coming out of homes.”
In line with the launch, on Friday the Future Food System crew will be ladling out three soups at Fed Square’s River Terrace. On the menu is a 48-hour wild-venison broth and another with wild pork, both made using the whole animal. There’ll also be a 12-hour vegan option made with “not so good-looking” mushrooms and seaweed wild-harvested in Tassie. Most of the vegetables, herbs, garums and misos come from the home, with sustainable, ethically harvested meat from Discovered Wildfoods. “Discovered Wildfoods supplies a variety of venison, different deer and wild boars, to a bunch of restaurants, but [co-founder Billy Staughton] is really adamant on making wild meat something we consume a lot more of,” Stone says. “It’s carbon-neutral because it’s wild, so we’re making a super nutritious broth with that and a vegan one as well.”
“It’s probably the best food on earth,” adds Bakker. “It’s a wild animal, it’s lived the best life, and that comes through in the flavour. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever eaten before, so we thought we’d turn it into a broth.”
After discussing the hazardous impact wild deer and pigs have on native environments, Bakker and Staughton are eager to incentivise more licensed hunters to provide meat to Discovered Wildfoods that can eventually be turned into a sustainable Brothl product. “By this time next year, we’d like to have a product in market,” says Bakker.
For now, though, you can try one of the early versions for $15 a bowl at the pop-up. To drink, Mac Forbes will be pouring his Yarra Valley wine. And bottles of the Future Food System limited-release Spring Gin will also be available to buy. Just 400 bottles were distilled at Darling Distillery in Clifton Hill, using botanicals from the house; think calendula and magnolia blossom, lemon, rhubarb, fresh parsley and native thyme.
The Brothl pop-up is at Fed Square’s River Terrace, near Deakin Edge, on Friday October 15 from 3pm to 8pm. Returnr Marketplace currently delivers to select Melbourne suburbs on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursday; become a member online.