What constitutes waste? The definition could be summed up to useless trash, but it also has a more interesting meaning—product used extravagantly. Now, I’ve worked in some pretty “wasteful” restaurants, in the words of Danny Grant “If your’e producing Michelin-starred-quality-food, and doing it right, there’s going to be waste.” At the same time I’ve seen incredible ingenuity in the likes of Graham Elliot, David Chang, Phillip Foss, and Andrew Brochu.
Lets start this off with “junk” food. A lot of chefs have been using their guilty pleasures to enhance, or in some cases depress, their Michelin starred cuisine. From “cheese-its” to cereal milk, chefs have been spinning their wheels thinking of ways to incorporate what they like to munch on after a long night at the pass (or possibly a bong rip). Personally, I enjoy munching on Peeps.
Then you have the chefs that use everything they can find in nature. Rene Redzepi does this best, although he has the unfair advantage of location, location, location. At least thats what I thought before I had dinner at EL. The chefs at EL take great pride in their comedian by night, forager by day, Dave Odd. They used honeysuckles, lilly bulbs, bee pollen, local mushrooms, and the teeniest garlic bulbs I have ever seen. I never thought I would want to spend my evening eating thirteen courses that included some sort of flower in almost every course, but I enjoyed every second of it. Chefs Brochu and Foss are on to something. Something I cant quite put my finger on, but it’s there and you should do whatever you can to get into this restaurant.
We took these concepts of “waste not, want not” and incorporated them into a take on the Mexican street food elotes. With a brilliant reflection on corn-silks from ideas in food we were able to find a use for something I had never cooked or eaten before. And in these days, tasting something new is a pleasure most cooks don’t get too often.