Putting the taste in waste: Charity events save food from the bin
TORONTO — Trash is the new culinary treasure for some creative chefs who are repurposing ingredients normally destined for the garbage.
Diners at an upcoming Trashed and Wasted charity event in Toronto can expect to consume food and drink made from ingredients rescued before they could become waste, or that are being repurposed to get another life out of them, says organizer Brock Shepherd.
Chefs will be using fat, bones, organs and the like from Sanagans Meat Locker. Hooked, a sustainable fish company, is saving the cheeks from their butchered fish for use in a dish. The Venezuelan eatery Arepas Cafe will stew green plantain skin that’s normally discarded to serve with tostones, twice-fried plantain slices. And leftover toasted bread is going into beer, while whey from cheese production at a local dairy is going into a vodka.
Shepherd, who has owned several restaurants, long ago became aware of needless food waste.
“One of the things that drove me nuts, we would do smoothies and I would see staff chop off the top of a strawberry to get rid of the green, and they’d leave the shoulders of the strawberry too where there was perfectly good fruit,” he says.
In Vancouver, the Royal Dinette restaurant has held five similar Ugly Duckling dinners. Not only have they raised awareness of food waste and recycling, but they’ve also offered the chefs a chance to explore different textures and techniques, says general manager Chen-Wei Lee.
Besides putting kale stems in pasta or infusing ice cream with flavour from coffee grounds, they have made syrup from the shells of snap peas and mixed it into a cocktail.
In another innovation, stock made from fish bones was used to cut the saltiness and sharpness of the liquid from braising octopus, which Lee says is generally wasted.
Shepherd says Trashed and Wasted was inspired by similar international events, including the WastED pop-ups launched by chef Dan Barber out of his New York restaurant Blue Hill.
The United Nations says onethird of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tonnes per year. Food is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial agricultural production to final household consumption.
Tickets for the March 1 Toronto Trashed and Wasted event are $35, plus food and drink, or $50 all inclusive.
Proceeds will go to Second Harvest, which picks up donated surplus food and delivers it to community agencies in Toronto.