Americans love a good food trend, whether it’s boneless wings, or eating like a locavore. In New York, one establishment is breaking new ground with a menu that consists only of dishes made from food waste.
Dumpster dive vegetable salad. Fried skate wing cartilage. Meatloaf made from beef usually fed to dogs. These are among the specialties at wastED, a popup in the space that’s usually occupied by Blue Hill, a farm-to-table restaurant where President Obama and the first lady once ate.
Like a lot of food-conscious people, Blue Hill’s chef, Dan Barber, is appalled by waste. Not just the meals people leave on the plate, but the food that never even makes it into the kitchen.
For example: the leftover pulp from cold-pressed juice. Barber figured out how to turn it into veggie burgers. And he says the guy who runs the juice factory is delighted.
“I mean, he said, ‘I’ve thought about this a lot and I hate that we’re trucking this to other states to dump or to compost, it makes no sense,’” Barber says. “But is it his fault? I don’t think so.”
Barber believes it’s the chef’s job to find a use for everything, so the supply chain sends less food into the trash.
In his kitchen, Dan Barber picks up what appears to be a thumb-sized piece of plywood.
“After you press the pistachio for the pistachio oil, this is what’s left. But here we made it into a cookie,” Barber says.
Dipped in chocolate, it is actually pretty good.
A peek inside the kitchen trash can reveals a tangle of latex gloves and plastic wrap. Nevertheless, Dan Barber reaches in, and pulls out some useable vegetable matter.
“See that’s a no-no,” Barber says. “I’m glad you caught me. These are beautiful ends of shallots. We should probably do a dish with this.”
WastED runs through the end of the month. All plates cost $15, and reservations are recommended.
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