Dennis Yong has always been an environmentalist first and a chef second.

Though he’s worked in some of Melbourne’s most notable kitchens – including Sunda, Amaru and Tulum – his personal sustainability-first ethos hasn’t slipped out of focus.

In fact, it manifested in retail brand Furrmien, for which Yong takes food waste – be it cosmetically flawed, overripe or a by-product – and transforms it into preserved and fermented jarred goods. Think radicchio kimchi, rockmelon jam and phenomenal “avokaya”, the mashup of avocado and kaya (Southeast Asian coconut jam) we never knew we needed.

Apart from a few pop-ups, Yong has spent the past few years concentrating on the production side of things in an effort to grow his brand and spread his message – “rather than coming from a restaurant point of view first”, he says. But now he’s returning to the kitchen – at Parcs (“scraps” spelt backwards), a small but energetic wine bar and restaurant on Little Collins Street. “It’s a physical space where people can learn about what we do.”

While the 20-seat, fermentation-forward venue is owned by Adi Halim – also behind Sunda, Aru and The Hotel Windsor – Yong leads the charge at Parcs, much like Khanh Nguyen at Sunda and Aru.

Seventy per cent of the menu is made from scraps, Yong says, ranging from cucumber peels to the outer leaves of cos lettuce to on-the-cusp mangoes. Anything that another restaurant or market might be willing to toss aside, Yong is ready to rescue.

Every dish contains at least one fermented ingredient, though their uses vary wildly. Mushrooms are coated in persimmon-pulp hot sauce before being deep-fried and served with preserved tofu cream. Limp cos that would have otherwise been discarded is preserved and layered through salted-salmon fried rice. “We brine it and dry it so it gets that crunchy texture, kind of like the Chinese-style salted mustard leaves,” Yong says.

Mussels are pickled, tossed with kimchi and finished with a vibrant green seasoning made from The Hotel Windsor’s leftover cucumber peels. They are then brined before being dehydrated and ground into powder, enhancing their earthy flavour and extending their shelf life exponentially.

The signature “umami e pepe”, meanwhile, is a play on cacio e pepe. It takes the cheesy, peppery Italian pasta dish and flips it on its head, with a secret recipe centred around miso made from leftover bread.

You’ll even find sunflowers on the menu, which Yong uses from top to tail. The stem’s meaty centre (which is called the “marrow”) is smoked, pureed and spread atop Chinese doughnuts, while the petals are fermented into low-ABV wine.

Also on the drinks list, you’ll find a selection of local, sustainably focused, minimal-intervention wines – and a handful of experimental cocktails developed by Darren Leaney, who previously worked at Capitano and Dinner by Heston.

Though Yong still operates Furrmien, he’s also launched Parcs’ own line of fermented products, which currently includes bread miso and kosho (a briny, spicy Japanese condiment) made from orange peels. Both are available to buy in-store.

Parcs
198 Little Collins Street, Melbourne

Hours:
Tue to Sat 4pm–11pm

parcs.com.au