Lemon peels, bread ends, cilantro stems, and other ingredients often tossed featured prominently on select DC menus from July 13 – 20, 2019 as sustainable restaurants across the city joined in RescueDishDC. The goal? To fight food waste and demonstrate how a little ingenuity can turn underutilized ingredients into amazing taste experiences.
In the U.S. more than a third of food goes to waste, with environmental consequences ranging from carbon emissions to habitat loss. About 80 percent of that waste has been traced to consumers and consumer-facing business. The mission of RescueDish, whose signature event is the weeklong RescueDishDC, is to celebrate restaurants that actively work to reduce their waste, and to use the fun of dining out to inspire consumers to rethink what they are tossing at home. RescueDish is a project of the DC Food Recovery Working Group.
Chefs at participating restaurants (for a full list check out RescueDish.org) made use of ingredients that many homecooks usually throw away—think the leftovers from a marinade, corn cobs or even charred eggplant skin. Some looked to their own operations and supply chains—ANXO served ciderhouse punch made from cider used to clear the lines between batches and The Pig offered pig ear lettuce wraps. Fancy Radish even used upcycled bottles to serve the Ancient Mariner, a cocktail crafted with bar extras like lime peels and orange juice, as well as pickle brine and pineapple skins.
Often such waste-reducing work happens quietly in the kitchen, but during RescueDishDC, restaurants will be engaging with their diners, tableside, at the register, on the menu and on social media to share how they use ingredients to their fullest potential.
While the week has ended, go to these restaurants and ask about their dishes. Some are still on their menus, and, with enough demand, others may come back!
Examples of RescueDishDC specials include:
Bar snacks: corn cob soup, crispy potato skins with lemon truffle sour cream
Cocktail: Summer berry shrub with local gin and seltzer
Note: Available during Commuter Hour, 5 – 7 p.m. weeknights
Ancient Mariner cocktail, spent lime infused Batavia Arrack, pickle tepache with ginger, bartender’s OJ, served in reused ginger beer bottles (uses limes leftover from juicing, pickle brine, orange juice from oranges used for cocktail garnishes, and pineapple skins)
Maitake Potato Taco, extra maitake mushroom scraps and potato ends served on a flour tortilla, topped with a poblano salsa and curtido (a Salvadoran lightly fermented cabbage relish, which will be made with cabbage leftover from stock preparation)
Watermelon and tomato “migas,” with burnt eggplant tahini and pickled cilantro stems, served with 7-minute egg. Uses leftover marinade from tomato and watermelon fattoush salad, which will be cooked with yesterday’s pita and topped with tahini made from smokey charred [and usually discarded] eggplant peels. Note: Only available at Little Sesame Chinatown location
Rescue Panzanella, with bread ends, juicy tomato bits and broccoli stem pesto. Also includes fresh cucumber, heirloom cherry tomatoes, lettuce and a sauce infused with Lapsang Souchong black tea.
For a full list, including destinations like The Salt Line, Sababa and Blue Duck Tavern who will be highlighting existing dishes with great sustainability stories, head to RescueDish.org.