The Art of Trash Cooking

Some chefs specialize in French cuisine, others learn to bake the finest pastries and cakes. More recently, chefs concerned with food waste have taken up trash cooking.

It’s exactly what it sounds like. Food that’s usually considered waste, scraps, or rejects, are creatively cooked into a meal. But the end result looks, and tastes, much better than some may expect. Here are just a few chefs that have a talent for turning trash into culinary treasures.

Coffee ground biscuits by Matt Orlando

At Amass, a Copenhagen restaurant, coffee grounds are not tossed away. Instead, they are dried overnight, churned into a fine powder and mixed with blended oats. Add leftover coffee from the previous night’s service, sugar and butter, and you’ve got your main ingredients for coffee ground biscuits.

Head chef Matt Orlando sandwiches a mousse of chocolate and fennel seeds between two of the recycled coffee crisps, which are served with freshly brewed coffee, completing the snack.

Landfill burger by Dan Barber and Sam Kass

The U.N. was recently served a lunch made from food that would otherwise end up in landfills, and it looked like a gourmet meal. The entirely vegetarian menu was created by chef Dan Barber, a long time anti-food waste advocate, and former White House chef Sam Kass, who helped Michelle Obama promote the anti-obesity “Let’s Move” campaign.

The vegetable burger, shown above, was made with leftover pulp from juicing and repurposed bread buns. The ketchup is from bruised beats and the veggies are pickled cucumber scraps.

Carrot Top Pesto and roasted veggies by Bruce Kalman

Bruce Kalman, chef at a Pasadena restaurant called Union, experiments with pickling, juicing, compound butter- and stock-making with what many would see as garbage. His creatively has lead him to this rather appetizing, and easy-to-make dish consisting of vegetables and a rich pesto made from carrot tops, basil leaves, parmigiano reggiano cheese and roasted garlic puree.

Kalman encourages his guests to try making trash meals at home, and has provided the recipe for this dish which you can find here.