Waste Not, Want a Lot

By Joe Sevier


Joe Sevier
Chefs Page Pressley, Kevin Fink, and Tavel Bristol-Joseph of Emmer & Rye present on the main stage
Chefs Page Pressley, Kevin Fink, and Tavel Bristol-Joseph of Emmer & Rye present on the main stage

Published October 2018


“Don’t throw it away.” That’s the main point Page Pressley of Emmer & Rye hoped attendees of the the 2018 StarChefs Congress took from his main stage presentation with collaborators Kevin Fink and Tavel Bristol-Joseph.


“We don’t do inventory at all,” offered Bristol-Joseph, as the three discussed how they use up every last scrap that comes through their kitchen in an effort to be totally wasteless.


Back to Pressley: “Eventually, you’ll get tired of (byproduct) taking up space.” That’s the mentality that led to a panna cotta augmented with parsnip scraps—dehydrated to concentrate the root’s natural vanillin; fermented tomato jam, which tastes practically like fruity, tart strawberry; and granola made of leftover bran. Frankly, it may have been the best bite of food among the many, many great bites I ate throughout Congress.


So how’s a wannabe-wasteless chef supposed to start their own no-waste program? Fink says to “find something you have an excess of, and figure out what to do with it.” Making pasta every day? What are you doing with your egg whites? Pressley recounted a time they got some uninspiring dates. The team dried and then rehydrated them in a flavored brine. “What we ended up with was something totally unique that tasted delicious.”


The point is: grab your scraps, pull out your VitaPrep, and start experimenting. Will it always work out? No. “We’ve failed a ton,” said Fink. “You have to build failure into your costs.” Just “give yourself some slack” and remember that “in your kitchen it will taste different than what we do—and that’s kind of the point.”


Besides, according to Pressley, relying on “every piece of the terroir” from your local foodways “is what’s special.” And, as Bristol-Joseph pointed out, “it’s a great way to control your food costs.”

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