Austin Chefs Turning Waste into Gold

An anti-food waste "popup" featuring Austin chefs creating dishes out of food waste
Feb 03, 2021
Waste is Gold Team

In the last week of January, Choco once again teamed up with restaurants to launch its Waste is Gold, a 3-day anti-food-waste pop-up event highlighting food waste ingredients and the importance of sustainability in hospitality, this time in Austin, Texas.

For the second edition following our launch in LA, Five restaurants from all over Austin took part in the challenge of creating recipes from food waste created in their kitchen. The restaurants, ranging from weekend brunch spots to farm-to-table restaurants, were Il Brutto, Otoko x Watertrade, Foreign & Domestic, Casa de Luz, and Hillside Farmacy. From a meditation center serving all-day vegan fare in Barton Springs to a cocktail bar attached to a Japanese omakase on South Congress, we were thrilled at the creativity and commitment of the chefs. Some of the most unique dishes made out of food waste included a mushroom crème brûlée made with dehydrated mushrooms leftovers or a cocktail called The Lovely Love Affair made with smoked chamomile tea leaves.

In the US alone, 40% of all food produced goes uneaten, making up 133 billion pounds in landfills and totaling $161 billion of food waste per year. Choco is committed to tackling this issue by making ordering more streamlined and the broader food supply chain more efficient through its technology platform. Along with providing the hospitality industry with a free app to manage orders, the Choco team is striving to make the food industry more sustainable. For this reason, we work with restaurants worldwide to encourage them to promote a zero-food-waste culture and share knowledge, together with us, on the best management practices and culinary tricks to do so.

Here are some of highlights of what restaurants served during the Waste is Gold event and how they embraced our challenge of creating dishes or menus made out of leftovers and without generating waste.

Japanese omakase-style restaurant Otoko and Japanese-inspired bar Watertrade developed a menu in the spirit of the Mottainai philosophy (reduce, reuse, recycle) to serve two sustainable cocktails made with food waste ingredients: The Lovely Love Affair, made with Hyogo Far East 135° gin, Giffard Orgeat syrup, lemon juice, and smoked chamomile leaves, and Pretty Bird, crafted with Teeda Okinawa rum, pineapple rum, Leopold Bros Aperitivo, Sudachi juice, fresh pineapple juice, and shiso simple syrup.

Foreign & Domestic delighted the hungry folks with a special dessert: Mushroom Crème-Brûlée with a semi-sweet hint of basil and sesame; the dish was made using leftovers of their locally-sourced Hi-Fi Oyster mushrooms stems from their signature Gnocchi meal.

For Il Brutto, sustainability is the new chefs' kiss. The restaurant served a Pretty + Deliziosa dish featuring gnocchi with aged cheese skin, squash seeds, and brown thyme, as part of their delicious menu representing the encounter between American Western and Italian.

Hillside Farmacy, the oldest standing African American East Austin spot, proposed a zero waste version of a Chicken & Biscuit, using veggies scraps from other kitchen preparations. On the last day of the event (and close to their 30th anniversary), the holistic dining room of Casa de Luz hosted a whole breakfast experience where every dish was made with food waste ingredients and without wasting food.

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