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Why Did This Caterer Serve Garbage?

To help raise environmental awareness, Scoozi Events offered an innovative menu of repurposed food waste and scraps.

By Michele Laufik April 15, 2016, 7:00 AM EDT

The dumpster crudité platter included vegetable pulp hummus made from pressed juices and canned chickpea water debris that was served in a squeezable tube, along with a pickle juice vinaigrette.

Photo: Courtesy of Scoozi Events

Scallion butts, coffee grounds, and chickpea water debris are usually found in the trash, not on a catering menu. But for a recent industry event, Scoozi Events was able to turn garbage gourmet.

The dinner, which was held for media and event industry pros on March 28 at the caterer's Upper West Side space, featured transformed scraps such as smoked broccoli stalk “hot dogs,” compost tempura with carrot peelings and beet tops, and butcher's waste carnitas with pineapple core elote.

While the menu concept will not be offered as an option to planners for events, Scoozi wanted to inspire the industry, which can be notoriously wasteful. “Being a three-star green-certified caterer, we strive to promote awareness and encourage others. It's really not hard being green. Sorry Kermit!” explained Stella Ballarini, founder and C.E.O. of the New York-based catering firm. She added that 40 percent of food in the U.S. is wasted each year, and that food waste is the single largest component filling up landfills.

Ballarini wants to challenge other caterers “to be more creative with menu planning and execution” and to use the entire product when preparing dishes. She also suggests taking advantage of food programs run through suppliers such as Baldor Specialty Foods. The Northeast distributor of fresh produce launched an initiative last year to eliminate all organic waste. Titled SparCs (which is scraps spelled backwards), the program provides veggie trim, tops, and peelings from its processing facility to chefs and manufacturers. The company hopes to inspire and encourage the industry to incorporate the usable ingredients into their meals.

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