Chefs Turn Veggie Scraps into Gourmet Cuisine

High-end restaurants transform unused plant parts such as stems, leaves, and innards into innovative culinary creations.


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With sustainability a hot trend in the food world, some environmentally conscious chefs are inventing new ways to cook the roots, stems, leaves, seeds, and other “waste” products that normally wind up on compost heaps or in landfills. At Amass in Copenhagen, Denmark, chef Matt Orlando bakes crispy flatbread crackers from coffee grinds and oats, while in Vancouver, Canada, the Acorn’s Rob Clarke makes wild leek pesto that has “a nice texture and nutty garlic onion flavor.” At Union in Haverstraw, NY, chef Bruce Kalman juices fennel stalks and fronds into syrup that he combines with lemon juice and sugar for a sorbet salad dressing. The idea of repurposing supposed “wasted” plant elements is a growing trend, as last year, chef Dan Barber started an annual three-week pop-up restaurant called WastED to educate people about the benefits of eating discarded food, and San Francisco’s Salvage Supperclub serves diners leftovers while they sit at a table inside a dumpster.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Hinderaker