Local chefs get wasted

Chef Davin Waite of Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub in Oceanside gets fresh vegetables.

Chef Davin Waite of Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub in Oceanside gets fresh vegetables.

(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Last month, I talked all about getting buzzed in the morning (with coffee, of course). This month I’m here to talk about how cool it is to get wasted.

At an inaugural event at Liberty Station last month, dozens of chefs — some local, some international, some of TV fame — and bartenders gathered to celebrate, of all things, waste.

The event, Wasted: A Celebration of Sustainable Food, was collaboratively created by the culinary masterminds behind Chef Works and Kitchens for Good to challenge chefs and mixologists to use items from the kitchen that would normally be discarded, or wasted, and turn them into desirable bite-sized dishes, drinks and desserts.

The concept might sound off-putting at first (why would I want to eat someone’s garbage?), but when you put a creative culinary mind to work, it’s incredible to see and taste the end result.

And, while I was excited to see some of the TV celeb chefs at the event (Bruce Kalman from Top Chef: Colorado had one of my favorite dishes with his corn ash roasted carrots with carrot top pesto and a dusting of leek powder), it was great to see so many San Diego chefs getting wasted, too.

It also got me thinking about the movement of sustainability around San Diego in general. What is the local culinary community doing when it comes to lessening overall waste? So, since this is PACIFIC’s annual Chain of Gourmand issue, I reached out to some of the featured chefs for a little behind the curtain look at how they’re helping keep Mother Earth green (or is it blue?), and here’s what I found out.

“As chef it’s of the utmost importance that we are respectful of the planet, environment and ecosystems that provide us with our livelihoods,” said chef Davin Waite of Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub and The Whet Noodle whose sustainable practices include working with local farmers to find ways to utilize components that might often be overlooked, therefore keeping organics out of the landfill.

“As far as our proteins go, we use 100% of the animal — from nose to tail — in some portion of the menu such as sauces, stocks and charcuterie,” said chef Brad Wise of Trust and Hundred Proof. “Nothing goes to waste in our kitchens.”

For chef Richard Blais of The Crack Shack and Juniper & Ivy, being sustainable also allows him to feed his crew. “We cook a ‘family meal’ each day for our big staff that often features the bits and pieces, scraps and trim turned into soulful delicious food.”

So, the next time you’re prepping for dinner and are thinking of sending your scraps to the garbage, put on your creative chef’s hat and see what you can dream up so those scraps don’t get wasted.


Leslie Hackett