Page last updated at 06:49 GMT, Sunday, 6 September 2009 07:49 UK

Making no bones about doggy-bags

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall
A Michelin star is not enough to deter Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall

A television chef has backed a supermarket's call for British diners to ask for doggy-bags to take food home in - even at top class restaurants.

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall agreed with an article in Waitrose Magazine urging more people to take home unfinished food when eating out.

He said: "I've been asking for doggy-bags for years and never been refused one - it's a shame to waste good food."

20 million tonnes of food are thrown away each year in Britain.

That includes three million tonnes from restaurants alone, according to figures from Wrap, the government's environmental pressure group.

Waitrose Magazine's editor, William Sitwell, said: "The amount of waste restaurants generate is appalling.

People would rather be asked for a doggy-bag than have food coming back into the kitchen on a plate
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall

"But diners need to get over their embarrassment, and restaurants need to encourage their waiters to offer it."

Asking for doggy-bags is customary in America - but in Britain many are hamstrung by embarrassment when it comes to saving leftovers.

But Mr Fearnley Whittingstall said: "There's no need to be shy - any of the chefs in our places would be more than happy to give a doggy-bag.

"People would rather be asked for a doggy-bag than have food coming back into the kitchen on a plate which suggests they didn't really like it."

One listener told BBC Radio 4's PM programme they had been refused a doggy-bag in a top London restaurant.

But Mr Fearnley Whittingstall has never had that problem. He said: "I've eaten in some pretty fancy places - I've asked for doggy-bags in Michelin-starred restaurants.

"Chefs are quite happy with the idea - this isn't something that is frowned-on."

Other leading chefs to have backed the practice include Chris Galvin and Michel Roux, head chef at the two-star Michelin restaurant Le Gavroche in central London.

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