Good news on the battle against food waste: Leading chefs across the country are taking on the fight with creativity, flavor and a dedication to sustainability. At the 2019 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, Chefs Hari Pulapaka of Cress Restaurant in Deland, Florida and Abra Berens of Granor Farm in Three Oaks, Michigan, shared their passion for thoughtfully using up as every last fruit peel and vegetable core which, turns out, cooks up to a tasty chutney.
As homesteaders, we personally know the value of the food we grow when we raise it ourselves. From seed and field to table, the time and resources needed to raise healthy, high quality produce and meats motivate us to not let anything go to waste. Kudos to the growing movement of innovative chefs joining this fight against food waste by embracing the challenge of creatively finding a way for every cauliflower core and orange peel to end up on the plate.
Chefs Fight Food Waste
“For me as a chef, it inspires my creativity and makes me think about new ways to use things and certainly makes me feel better about the work that I do,” shares Chef Hari Pulapaka, the award-winning chef at Cress Restaurant in Deland, Florida, recognized for his innovative work in the area of food waste reduction. At his restaurant, you’ll see the same farmers he buys from stopping by later to pick up food scraps for animal feed and compost. Items that other restaurants would just add to the landfill, like vegetables stems and cores, Pulapaka uses in everything from sauces to soups and chutneys like his Core Value Chutney recipe below.
“The beauty of cooking and mitigating food waste is it gives you a new way to look at some of these ingredients that we see day in and day out and new ways we can showcase the flavors and honor the farmers that grew them,” explains Chef Abra Berens, whose family farm roots and personal farming experience add up to her strong use it up outlook today as a chef.
Making Restaurants and Homesteads More Profitable
Restaurant chefs understand their audience at the National Restaurant Show as fellow chefs and other restaurant entrepreneurs need to make their business profitable. The same holds true for any homestead.
“It’s easier to sell the economics to everyone, including business owners. If you want to be in business, simply don’t waste food,” adds Pulapaka, who in addition to a love for food has a passion for numbers with career roots as a math professor before this new life chapter in the kitchen. He and Berens see mitigating food waste as an opportunity to both do good for the planet and the restaurant business.
“It’s a shift in your mindset to be creative as you already have this stuff in your kitchen,” sums up Pulapaka, a mantra that we homesteaders can readily relate to and his Core Values Chutney recipe is the perfect example philosophy. “Remember the entire vegetable is edible and this recipe can readily use up whatever you have on hand.”
As Chef Pulapaka simmered his chutney during his chef demo, the blend of citrus and savory aromas warmed up the stage at National Restaurant Show. We joined over 42,000 other attendees to explore flavors new and trends within the food-service industry, such as the rise of plant-based proteins and meat alternatives. Cheers to this hopefully growing movement of chefs leading the ongoing challenge of mitigating food waste. May we, as customers, support those establishments that share this value, and also adopt this approach in how we cook at home.
Core Values Chutney
By Chef Hari Pulapaka of Cress Restaurant
- 1 pound leaves, stems, and cores of broccoli, cabbage, or cauliflower (or a mix), washed
- 1 cup nuts (such as almonds, cashews, or peanuts), toasted
- 3 lemons, zested and juiced
- 3 limes, zested and juiced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup white or golden balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons skin-on ginger, minced
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 bunch basil leaves with tender stems, washed
- 1 bunch cilantro with stems, washed and roughly chopped
- 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley with stems, washed and roughly chopped
- 1 jalapeño (with seeds), chopped
- Granulated sugar, as needed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Prepare the vegetables: gently boil the broccoli, cabbage, or cauliflower leaves, stems, and cores in a large pot of salted water.
2. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 18 minutes.
3. Drain well and cool to at least room temperature.
4. Make the chutney: in a food processor, grind the nuts until they are a fine crumb. Add the citrus juices and zest, garlic, olive oil, honey, vinegar, ginger, and mustard. Process well.
5. Add remaining ingredients, including the boiled vegetables. Puree well.
6. Taste the chutney and adjust the salt and sugar levels, as desired.
Yield: Approximately 4 cups
Lisa Kivirist, with her husband, John D. Ivanko, a photographer and drone pilot, have co-authored Rural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef cookbook along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by renewable energy. Kivirist also authored Soil Sisters. As a writer, Kivirist contributes to MOTHER EARTH NEWS, most recently, Living with Renewable Energy Systems: Wind and Solar and 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son, Liam, and millions of ladybugs. Read all of Lisa’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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