‘Ugly’ Produce is so Haute right now.

Recently, we talked about the amount of food wasted in this country, and as evidenced by a recent New York Times article, the problem continues to worsen–America wastes 60 million metric tons of food a year, with an estimated value of $162 billion. We examined solutions to this problem in which the grocery store, responsible for 10%, and the consumer, could assist each other in driving that enormous number of waste down. But one thing we failed to mention is the necessary actions by restaurants, particularly chefs, in this battle against food waste. An ideal candidate is Jamie Oliver as he has been fighting for the integrity of ugly fruit and vegetables for nearly a decade; Tom Colicchio of Colicchio & Sons has also canvassed around the Capital pushing for better lunches in schools, the notion of organic over conventional, and so on.

But no one has engaged the farm-to-table movement, the notion of organic fruits and vegetables, pastured animals, and sustainable fish, more than Dan Barber. Co-owner of Blue Hill restaurant and author of The Third Plate, Dan Barber’s preeminent restaurant has been crafting high end, farm fresh tasting menus for 15 years. And this past week, Mr. Barber’s exploration of sustainability and food waste came to an end with his latest venture, wastED, a pop-up restaurant with a rotation of some of the best chefs in the world, cooking the humblest of ingredients: “I want to use a chef’s creativity and technique to transform ingredients that we don’t think of as edible and delicious and turn them into something that’s coveted.” Often, the public perspective on food is influenced by those most in touch with the food itself; chefs are first to establish trends (Kale was delicious long before it was cool) and with the emergence of the celebrity chef, thinking like a cook has never been more accessible. This idea of using all parts of the animal, fish, and plant are not newfangled–American cuisine is heavily based on it–but Dan Barber’s usage of ‘scraps’, and on such a high end stage such as his Blue Hill restaurant, challenges our current food system while highlighting its most ignored, disposed of ingredients.

wastED Menu

The Third Plate: http://www.thethirdplate.com/