IT’S what sustainability is all about; avoiding the unnecessary draining of our natural resources and maintaining the delicate ecological balance.

It’s an ethos that is at the heart of Fresh Element’s approach to food and something that Peter Hunt, co-founder and director of the hospitality operator, is passionate about.

He said: “We care passionately about where our food comes from, how it is produced, and the ecological footprint it leaves.

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“It’s shocking to think that in the UK we waste £13bn of food each year.

“It’s something I feel very strongly about.

“We believe we should be offering our diners the opportunity to not only eat well, but also to eat responsibly, whether at our restaurant and cafés or at private events.

“Nowhere is this more important than in our approach to sourcing and preparing the meat we use in our dining and events venues.

“That is why we have made a conscious decision to source meat of unparalleled quality that has been reared to the highest ethical standards.

“We want our customers to know when they sit down to dine that the food on their plate is full of natural flavour, has been produced more humanely, and has had as little impact on the environment as possible.”

Mr Hunt’s aspiration is for Fresh Element to become the most sustainable hospitality operator in the UK and he plans to achieve this by not only championing North-East meat producers, but turning the clock back to the days of culinary prudence when nothing was wasted.

The company runs the Six Restaurant, Baltic’s event spaces and Baltic Kitchen café at Gateshead’s Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, as well as the Garden Kitchen in Newcastle’s Eldon Garden.

He said: “We’re incredibly fortunate to have found a team of like-minded people who are equally as committed to sustainability in hospitality.

“In particular, our chef-butcher Tom Robertshaw has transformed our kitchen at Baltic into an artisan butchery and oversees the process from sourcing all the way through to working with the head chef on menu planning.”

Mr Hunt says nothing goes unused, revealing Fresh Element ages its own meat, has implemented longer cooking techniques for cuts that benefit from a slower approach, and runs its own charcuterie where a range of air dried hams, cured and smoked meats, and sausages are delicately aged.

He said: “Buying directly from local, family-run farms gives us a better understanding of the meat we buy and how it was raised.

“We do this because it is the only way to guarantee a direct supply and it recognises the superior quality produce that we have on our doorstep."

As a member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association in the North-East, Fresh Element is reviewing every area of its operations to ensure business practices are ethical, responsible and sustainable.

Mr Hunt added: “We wanted to start a sustainable business because we believe businesses should be more than just machines that make profit and should have a net positive contribution to their environment.

“That’s not always easy to achieve in practice, because in the commercial world often ‘short-term profit’ and ‘long-term good’ are seen as opposite sides of the coin.

“I love the challenge of finding creative solutions to these problems.”

Five minutes with…Peter Hunt

Favourite North-East building and why? The Baltic, as my business is based there.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid? Planting veg and salad in a local farmers’ field in East Yorkshire. I got about £2.50 an hour, I think. It was in the late-1990s.

What is the worst job you've had? Working in a National Rail call centre was pretty soul destroying. Pretty much everyone who calls you either starts out angry, or is angry by the end of the call.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner? I’d probably go for a slow-cooked joint of meat or a Sunday roast. I’m pretty confident my gravy is world-class.

What would your superpower be? I’d love to be able to fly as it would cure my fear of heights and substantially reduce the cost of foreign holidays.

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party: Andy Murray, John Le Carre, Alex Turner, from the band the Arctic Monkeys, and my wife Sukhi.

Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much? Probably an engagement ring. I’m not saying how much.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why? Always the funny ones or parody accounts. There are so many good ones and I discover new ones all the time. At the moment @Jimllpaintit, @YesThatsTheJoke and @Classic_picx are keeping me entertained.

Favourite book? Catch-22, by Joseph Heller.

When did you last cry? I cried as I answered these questions because our PR manager was shouting at me for being late with my responses.

What is your greatest achievement? Running a Tough Mudder race dressed as a schoolgirl (not even for charity) for the amusement of my colleagues (they picked the outfit).

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given? Under-promise, over-deliver.

Favourite animal and why? Dogs. They’re the perfect pet and better than cats in every way. Obviously.

Most famous person on your mobile phone? My friend Mark Wilson, who played tennis against Andy Murray (when they were both ten).

What was the last band you saw live? The Last Shadow Puppets.

Describe your perfect night in: Netflix – brand new House of Cards. Dabbawal - takeaway.

In another life I would be... A reclusive best-selling novelist.

Who would play you in a film of your life? James McAvoy, who tells me he’s often mistaken for me.

What irritates you? When you send someone an email and rather than clicking “reply”, they compose a new email to you in response. So you have to go back into your sent items to remind yourself what you asked them. That and hayfever.

What's your secret talent? Cryptic crosswords. As long as I have access to a thesaurus and Google.