It’s no secret that Chef Kalman strives for the most sustainable ingredients possible when cooking at Union and now he’s being featured in this article on Mashable for his efforts to bring attention to large scale food waste. We’re so excited to be highlighted as a part of this ongoing global issue. Chef Kalman continues to inspire us every day!
You can read Mashable’s article in its entirety at this link or see the feature below.
by Kirsta Simmons
LOS ANGELES, California — Today’s chefs are digging through Hefty bags for your next appetizer.
The idea of stretching ingredients is hardly new, but many chefs are testing even more extreme limits in an effort to avoid food waste. It’s gourmet junk food — and could already be at the tip of your fork.
In an attempt to reduce astronomical waste in the industry, leaders are applying innovative techniques to turn vegetable scraps and what’s known as “seconds” — produce that isn’t deemed visually fit for the market — into stunning meals.
And we’re not talking a tiny amount of trash. Author of American Wasteland Jonathan Bloom says there’s about a half-pound of food waste created per meal served in restaurants. Nonprofit End Food Waste Now estimates the average restaurant produces 150,000 pounds of garbage per year. France recently recognized the issue, requiring all edible food from supermarkets to be donated to charities rather than sent to the landfill.
There’s plenty of room for a new wave of impactful junk food. And this time it’s not just to save money; it’s political.
(Tortelloni pasta made with parmesan rinds, prosciutto nubs and “ugly” pea tendrils, by Love & Salt Chef Michael Fiorelli. – KRISTA SIMMONS)
Dan Barber recently created a pop-up called Wasted in New York City, revolving around the concept. He invited 20 of the world’s top toques to collaborate on dishes with ingredients like skate cartilage, beef tallow, vegetable pulp and kale ribs — all typically throwaways.
Grant Achatz of the famed restaurant Alinea in Chicago plans to tackle similar issues with his new restaurant concept, Roister. He’ll use biofuels made from fruit and vegetable waste to create fire to cook new dishes.
The movement couldn’t come at a more experimental time for dining. Foodies are more open to eating off-cuts of meat once deemed peasant food, and root-to-stem fruits and vegetables.
(Chef Bruce Kalman of Union restaurant, Pasadena, California. – KRISTA SIMMONS)
On the West Coast, Bruce Kalman of Union in Pasadena is playing with pickling, juicing, compound butter- and stock-making with what many would see as garbage. He juices items like the hulls of shelled peas and transforms them into bright sauces to accompany roasted porcini mushrooms. Cauliflower stems and leaves (which many culinary school schools still instruct to remove) are shaved thin on a mandolin and used as a textural balance in a cauliflower salad. And woodsy fennel stalks are juiced and frozen into a refreshing summer sorbet.
“We have a responsibility as chefs to make food that people want to eat, but also that’s sustainable,” says Kalman. “Cooking this way has really opened my mind up creatively, and is making me look at these wasted foods in a different way.”
Kalman suggests that guests can be inspired by these ideas at home, asking farmers at their local market for discounted “uglies” or “seconds” to make jams or pestos, and to look at the tops of beets and carrots as ingredients rather than compost, like he does with his delicious roasted carrot dish, slathered with carrot-top pesto.
(Chef Michael Fiorelli of Love & Salt restaurant, Manhattan Beach, California – KRISTA SIMMONS)
In fact, pesto is an easy and scrumptious approach for chefs and at-home cooks alike. Michael Fiorelli of Love & Salt, a California-style Italian restaurant in Manhattan Beach, takes wilted, bruised arugula that would normally never make it to the market and turns it into a pesto for his fresh handmade pastas.
“Throwing things like beet greens and cauliflower leaves away is crazy to me. I grew up in an Italian family, so the idea of wasting food is really foreign,” says Fiorelli. “Not only is it economical and sustainable, but it tastes good, too.”
Fiorelli applies these techniques in his pea tendril-topped tortelloni, using parmesan rinds and nubs from the end of prosciutto to make a broth, then combines it with “ugly” pea tendrils in a food processor to make a vibrant green sauce that sings of spring. He blanches the pea tendrils so they don’t oxidize and turn brown, a technique Kalman also uses with his carrot-tops.
When plated, it’s a perfectly refined springtime dish, and a great representation of the new garbage glam.
(Chef Bruce Kalman of Union restaurant in Pasadena, California creates carrot top pesto with roasted vegetables out of “seconds,” or food deemed unusable by the majority of restaurants. – KRISTA SIMMONS)
“UGLY” CARROT TOP PESTO
1 C ice and water in a large mixing bowl
2 C carrot tops, blanched and shocked in ice water
2 C basil leaves
1 C walnuts, toasted
½ C parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated
½ C roasted garlic puree
2 tbsp champagne vinegar
1 C extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a large saucepan, boil salted water. Once the water has boiled, drop in the carrot tops and blanch for about 10 seconds. Remove, set in the ice water. Remove from the ice bath and set aside on a paper towel to dry. (This blanching process keeps the carrot tops bright green.)
Place all the ingredients in a food processor, save for the olive oil. Blend on high to coarsely chop all ingredients, slowly streaming in the olive oil. Be sure to blend quickly or the blender will create heat and discolor the pesto. Taste and adjust seasoning to your preference.
Enjoy immediately with roasted vegetables, pasta or chicken, or store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week.