Never judge a banana by its skin. That’s one of lessons learnt at Salvage Supperclub in Williamsburg, a community dining experience that serves a six course meal for $50 made with ingredients that would usually be chucked out. As well as enjoying mouth-watering dishes such as rainbow table-potato latkes topped with pineapple applesauce, guests are taught how to minimise food waste in their own lives. Josh Treuhaft, founder of Salvage Supperclub, told PSFK: “At our second salvage supperclub, the chef for the night, Sarah Natow, made this A-MAZING dessert. It was a banana custard tart in a cookie crust. The bananas for the custard were soooo old.
They were basically black on the outside. Anyhow, people were inhaling it and asking for more. And after they were done, they all wanted to know “the story” of the ingredients. So I reached into the compost bag and pulled out one of the peels and showed them what it looked like before we made the food. The looks on their faces was priceless. Not anger. Not disgust. Pure amazement. People were shocked that something so wonderful could come from something that looked so disgusting”.
Treuhaft wanted to do something practical to tackle the fact that many of us throw away perfectly edible food while millions go hungry. While studying for a Masters in Design for Social Innovation (DSI)at the SVA, he wrote a thesis on this topic: Eat Everything: Toward a New Norm in Food Desire. Inspired by Doug Ranch, the former president of Trader Joe’s who is working on a grocery store and restaurant that resells edible food waste, he set up the Salvage Supperclub as a practical step towards re-educating people about food.
Treuhaft explained the inspiration behind Salvage Supperclub: “I thought, “What if there’s a way to focus on FOOD as a way to reduce waste, instead of focusing on waste?” And that’s what eventually turned into me hosting communal dining experiences aimed at inspiring and empowering everyone who cooks and eats to make the most of the food in their lives”. The Salvage Supperclub meals are made with ingredients donated by local shops, farmers markets, food co-ops, cookery schools and small restaurants.
This food would otherwise be thrown away because it’s aesthetically unsellable, bruised or overripe. In keeping with the theme of food waste, the last few Salvage Supperclubs have been held inside a retrofitted construction dumpster. With the help of chefs from the National Gourmet Institute’s Chef’s Training Program, this space hosts a six course menu for 16 and an education on how to waste less food. “The guests are aware of the food sources and are given practical tips and explanations by the chef during the dinner. Then they get recipes for how to ‘eat everything’ in their own lives,” Treuhaft explains. Roasted carrot hummus and aged eggplant babaganoush on toast by Salvage Supperclub.
We often hear of innovative answers to food crisis such as eating insects, synthetic food and lab-grown meat. Treuhaft shows that we shouldn’t just rely on new technologies to solve this problem. Treuhaft told PSFK: “My main tip is to “eat everything.” Set your default mode to trying to eat the food you’ve got instead of so quickly trashing it. Stews, soups, purées, jams, spreads, etc. are all great ways to make use of stuff that doesn’t look great or have the texture you want. The other is to not be so afraid of getting sick.
Follow safe cooking and preparation practices, for sure. But we need to realize that food that’s turned color or changed texture isn’t necessarily more likely to make you sick. The bacteria that cause illness are totally different than the ones that cause your food to age and change texture, flavor, smell, etc”. Salvage Supperclub shows that by rethinking what we throw away, we can all do our bit to tackle the food shortage. ( By Vashti Hallissey from PSFK.com )