Meet – Hannah McCollum Hummus Chef
Hannah McCollum is originally from Gloucestershire, South West England. After she finished school, she started cooking professionally in the UK and Europe. In the years that she worked in the catering industry and as a private chef, she witnessed unbelievable amounts of food go to waste. She was inspired to do something about it, and as a private chef, started turning leftovers into dips or hummus for the next day. This became the idea behind her company, ChicP.
Hannah started ChicP in her kitchen in September 2015. She made different flavors of vegetable hummus using rejected vegetables from supermarkets, warehouses and markets that would have been thrown away. Now she makes her hummus at a production facility in Tottenham, London. Her dips are sold by retailers such as Whole Foods and Fortnum & Mason and comes in five flavors: banana, peanut butter and cocoa; herby hummus; carrot, ginger and turmeric; beetroot, sage and horseradish; and banana, avocado and cacao. Hannah was the winner of the Best Convenience Food Innovation Award in 2016.
What is ChicP?
ChicP creates a variety of sweet & savoury hummus from surplus fruit and vegetables.
Why did you decide to found ChicP? What were you doing before?
Before starting ChicP, I was working for a lovely company in Central London as a Project Manager/PA/Receptionist. The company was involved in film, art, philanthropy, travel and hospitality and I was able to get my hands into all these areas which was great. However after a year and a half I didn’t feel like I was doing any ‘good’ and wanted to go back to my passion of trying to do something about food waste while also showing that you can produce delicious food from surplus.
Can you describe a typical day?
My days are very different – I often start the day with a run along the river and get stuck into my emails at home in the ‘office’. I used to have to spend a few mornings or afternoons a week making hummus but luckily this is in the hands of my manufacturer now.
I will then often spend part of the day on my bike going to meetings, dropping samples and now doing samplings in store. I like to work in different places during the day so after a meeting I will often stay in that area of town and work.
What part of your work brings you the most joy?
When I meet people who are really enthusiastic about the brand or at a sampling where people love the product and choose to buy it over brand. It gives me a boost and keeps me at it. It’s also great to hear that people support sustainable businesses and hate food waste.
How do you come up with your hummus flavors? What is the most popular flavor?
As a cook, I have an idea in my head before I create a flavour of what goes together. So this combined with going to the market and seeing what surplus vegetables there are helps me bring the flavours together.
The most popular has tended to be the herby one, however since launching into Whole Foods, I am finding that the most popular one people buy in those stores is the Carrot, Ginger & Turmeric one.
What is the most common type of surplus vegetable?
I think I find carrots and bananas the most easy to come by. There seems to be so much of them. Bananas go off quicker so the surplus is created very easily. With carrots, there are lots of different types, and due to the scale of how much there are, I think that some suppliers at the markets find they have more than they need. Then with farmers, they have the out grades that supermarket warehouses reject so there is lots of surplus from the farms as well.
How do you minimize food waste of unsold hummus?
Over the last few weeks I have had ‘excess’ hummus from my maunfacturer due to minimum order quantities so I have done a lot of samplings, organised events, dropped hummus at other food or drink brand offices and am also donating some to food charities such as FoodCycle and the Felix Project, so I don’t let any go to waste.
What are the different types of people you coordinate with?
I coordinate with everyone, and that is part of what I love about my job. I have to deal directly with the growers, the market suppliers, the people who print my labels, my manufacturers, buyers for shops, distributors and customers… everyone and everybody from all walks of life, which is great and very important.
What is the funniest moment you remember while working at ChicP?
I was working in Whole Foods last December (2015) with my lovely helper at the time, Georgie, and we were trying to come up with funny Christmas phrases for our ‘Christmas Marketing Campaign’. We were coming up with things such as ‘Turnip the Beet, Carrot believe it’s nearly Christmas!’ and she said the most hysterical phrase just as I’d answered my phone to someone quite important. I was in absolute hysterics and was unable to say hello to him. Luckily, he was able to find it quite funny at the other end of the line and we were finally able to have a conversation… It was quite embarrassing.
Another time, someone at an event was looking at all the hummus trying to figure out whether they all had chocolate in them.
Any words of advice for kids thinking about becoming food waste heroes?
They can encourage their schools to use the leftovers to make new dishes, such as using leftover fruit and veggies to make smoothies and juices at break (instead of biscuits). Also, kids can eat all the food on their plates or take less if they don’t think they’re going to eat it all so that they reduce the amount of food they throw away! Kids can also encourage their parents to only buy what they need and to make sure that when they think something is off, to use their senses (smell and look) before they throw it away because more often than not, the food is still fine to cook or eat.