Vogue USA - 04.2020

(singke) #1
DINNER STARTED WITH a fried skate wing. Upon closer
inspection, it was skate-wing cartilage—the fish itself
having been dispatched earlier to a less liberal-minded
eater. What remained was salty, crisp, and delicately unc-
tuous, especially dipped into smoked fish head–infused
tartar sauce. Next was a precise and refreshing dice of
bruised apples, bok-choy leaves, and fennel tops with an
airy chickpea-water pistachio foam; then a restorative beef-
end broth; then a lightly cooked egg from scrap-fed hens.
This was all back in the spring of 2015, when chef Dan
Barber briefly turned the tiny West Village restaurant Blue
Hill into a performance-art piece called wastED. Barber’s
cooks used juice pulp from Liquiteria, fish skeletons from
Acme fish, kale and cauliflower stems from produce whole-
saler Baldor. They simmered, steamed, puréed, pressed,
fried, and put all the ingredients we often think of as gar-
bage on a brief menu with arch names like “cured cuts of
waste-fed pigs” and “pasta trimmings.”
The meal was delicious and had the absorbing force
of novelty. It also proved prophetic. Five years later, the
food world, painfully aware that America discards up to
40 percent of our food, has become obsessed with ending
waste. For home cooks, there are Misfits Market, Hungry
Harvest, and Imperfect Foods, which deliver misshapen
and surplus produce to home kitchens around the country.
For aspiring home cooks, chef Alison Mountford offers a
meal-kit service called Ends+Stems, “designed to reduce
food waste while making cooking approachable and fun.”

Bruised, oddly formed,

slightly wilted—
ingredients once tossed
out with the trash are
finding favor with chefs
and home cooks alike.
Tamar Adler reports
on food’s new obsession

with ending waste.

Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa offers waste-reduction
cooking classes; Baldor supplies chefs with a line of pro-
duce called SparCs (scraps backward—it took me days
to crack the code); former Patagonia employee Jeremy
Kaye and his brother, Blue Hill chef Adam Kaye, have
debuted The Spare Food Co.—which will offer consumer
packaged foods that use nearly every part
of each ingredient.
Perhaps it all sounds hippie-dippy. Until
you read, as I did in a rarely perused mar-
ket report, that today the food-waste busi-
ness is worth $46.7 billion and expected
to grow 5 percent per year for the next
decade. And that the annual cost of throwing out what
we currently do is $1 trillion. And that 30 to 50 percent of
global greenhouse gas emissions can be traced to produc-
ing, distributing, storing, cooking, and tossing food. And
that American families, fixated as we are on expiration
dates and signs of wilt on our organic little gem lettuce,
spend about $1,500 a year on food we never eat.
Of all the sectors touched by this garbage gold rush,
the one that seems most interesting and most unlikely is
restaurants. It’s one thing to buy an imperfect box of pasta
a week past its “best by” date, or turn your chicken carcass
into bone broth, or grill your chard stems. It’s another thing
entirely to pay restaurant prices to be diligently served odds
and ends on date night.
Or is it? I decided to do some research. I read about
Restauranglabbet in Stockholm, serving a daily buffet of
reclaimed food: glacéed Jerusalem artichokes, or a creamy
purée of broccoli stems, or maybe cauliflower with the
Japanese dried-seaweed-and-sesame-mix furikake. And
it seems like at Copenhagen’s Amass, anything one orders
is likely to be an exercise in creative repurposing. There’s
“Yesterday’s Bread,” “Chewy Beetroots with Walnut Pulp
Custard,” “Pumpkin Trim Dumplings,” and for dessert,
“Potato Skin Fudge.”
But flying anywhere for a no-waste meal defeats the pur-
pose. So I staked my hopes on one of Massimo Bottura’s
anti-waste refettorios. Bottura, whose Osteria Francescana
in Modena, Italy, is acclaimed as one of the best restau-
rants in the world, became a food-reclamation connois-
seur after spending the spring of 2015 turning would-be
discards from the Milan Expo into free communal meals.
He recruited other like-minded culinary luminaries such
as Daniel Humm, René Redzepi, and Alain Ducasse and
designed menus from bruised vegetables and stale bread
in a reimagined Milan community kitchen called Refet-
torio Ambrosiano. It still exists, housed in an old theater,
and the premise is to simultaneous-
ly tackle food waste and hunger.
Homestyle dishes like passatelli in
brodo—noodles made from bread-
crumbs in broth made with Parmesan
rinds—and homemade ravioli filled
with braised leftover meat and herbs
have been such a success that Bottura
and his wife,





restaurants have
proliferated from
Copenhagen to
London to
Brooklyn. Lorenzo
Vitturi, Green
Stripes #1, 2013.


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