Breaking Bad (Habits): Reducing Waste, Raising Profits

By Korakot Suriya-arporn

By

Korakot Suriya-arporn
Chef David Bazirgan of San Francisco's Dirty Habit leading a workshop on by-product utilization at ICC 2015
Chef David Bazirgan of San Francisco's Dirty Habit leading a workshop on by-product utilization at ICC 2015

At Dirty Habit in San Francisco, Chef David Bazirgan refuses to bin trimmings, peels, and odd bits. Instead, his kitchen follows a zero-waste mantra that, in turn, makes it more sustainable and profitable. At the 10th Annual StarChefs International Chefs Congress, Bazirgan shared five of his go-to tricks for slashing waste. 

Mushrooms. Bazirgan simmers mushroom trims in a mixture of soy, sake, and mirin to make kabayaki. In Japan, it’s brushed on grilled eel, but at Dirty Habit it turns up whenever a dish needs to crank up the umami. 

Bone-in rib eye steaks. His team orders whole ribeyes, but don't sell them bone-in. Instead, they separate the bones, place them in a vacuum bag, and freeze. When they collect enough, they marinate them overnight, braise, and serve the braised bones and marrow. “You get two dishes out of one cut of beef.”

Herb stems and scraps. No more randomly throwing scraps in a stock pot. He blends all the bits in oil to make herb oils, instead.

Chicken skin. Bazirgan removes any unneeded skin, salts it, flattens it between lightly greased parchment paper and weighted sheet trays, and crisps it at 325°F for an hour. He uses the skins as a salad garnish or anywhere crunch is needed.

Squeezed citrus. After juicing lemons and limes, Bazirgan preserves them Middle Eastern-style in a 3:1 ratio of salt and sugar. They chill out in a sealed vacuum bag, develop flavor over time, and often make it into salad dressings and ceviche marinades. 

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