Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Chef Dan Barber Tackles Food Waste with Delicious Fare

I don't often have guest bloggers that I don't assign a particular restaurant write for my blog, but food waste is a problem that I've always been interested in. America waste 70 billion pounds of food each year. Let that number sink in a bit. Ashley is also passionate about this issue, so I agreed to have her publish a post here to promote what she's trying to do in educating people on food waste!

This blog post originally appeared on Ending Food Waste (http://www.endingfoodwaste.co) and is written by Ashley Gelineau (http://www.endingfoodwaste.co/your-foodprint-and-how-to-reduce-it-with-ashley), a food activist looking to educate people on food waste and its impact on the environment.

In many cultures, cooking with food remnants that we in the United States deem ‘waste food' is common, and often encouraged. Home and professional chefs around the world have been creating delicious meals from whatever they have for years; this isn’t anything new. That said, many of us in America simply haven’t experienced the marvels of making something tasty out of scraps when it comes to food. 

In a recent article by The Guardian A chef’s Manifesto: Let’s Tackle Food Waste with Good Fare (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/world-on-a-plate/2015/oct/30/a-chefs-manifesto-lets-tackle-food-waste-with-good-fare), Dan Barber’s philosophy on this exact matter is brought to light. The article states, "Waste is central to Dan Barber’s cooking, and yet, he’d rather you didn’t sense that when you eat it. In fact, if you’re experiencing anything other than sublime thoughts when you taste his food, he’ll consider it an unsuccessful dish.”

Dan Barber is the executive chef at the famous Bluehill Restaurant in Manhattan, as well as Stone Barns in upstate New York.  He recently released a book called The Third Plate, in which he writes about sustainable cuisine practices that explains his core belief; stop TELLING people to cut food waste and start using it to make irresistibly delicious dishes.  To attain this goal, he transformed his restaurant into a pop-up called wastED. The menu contained “fried-skate-wing-cartilage” , “pock-marked potatoes” and “carrot-top marmalade."

Many Cultures Use ‘Waste Food’, Why Not America?

Barber claims that America is an anomaly because we’re such a young country. “…When we came over here we had all these virgin soils. You’d put a seed in the ground and it became a garden of eden. We’ve never been forced into the kind of negotiation where we develop dishes that take full advantage of what the landscape can provide. In many other parts of the world the idea of a waste dinner wouldn’t be possible, or if it were possible it would be appealing to the very elite and wealthy [because ‘waste food’ doesn’t really exist].”  It’s in a chef’s DNA to turn something that is ugly or uncoveted into something that is delicious and desirable for the ‘eater.’ Cultures around the globe have been doing this since the dawn of time; it’s time for America to follow in their footsteps.

Back in September, Barber and Sam Kass (former senior advisor for nutrition policy at the White House), made headlines when they served waste food to world leaders in a meeting at the United Nations. The menu? A vegetable burger made of the pulp left over from juicing and fries created from the starchy corn that would typically go into animal feed. “It’s the prototypical American meal but turned on its head. Instead of the beef, we’re going to eat the corn that feeds the beef,” said Barber.  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-28/world-leaders-given-trash-to-eat-at-un-to-highlight-food-wastage/6808838

Dan Barber’s Bluehill Restaurant

Since this blog does often do reviews of restaurants, it wouldn’t be complete without a little plug for Bluehill Restaurant in Manhattan :) I recently dined there on a trip to New York city and the fare was exquisite. The best part about it for me was knowing that by supporting that restaurant, I was also supporting the cause of wastED and eliminating waste food. (While wastED - http://www.wastedny.com) is only a pop-up restaurant, his efforts to further the mission are on point. Try it out sometime!)

A few things I tried for dinner:

Tomatoes with Smoked Cloud

Poussin with Haricot Verts

Grass Fed Beef

While the menu often changes up, I would say that everything the group I was with ate was delectable and worth every penny. I highly recommend it!

So here’s the big question, if you were to go to a restaurant and saw vegetable pulp burgers and fried skate wing cartilage, would you give it a try? Have you ever tried something that out of the ordinary? Share below!


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