One Man’s Treasure
Posted on August 1, 2018
One of the most important emerging food movements centers around reducing food waste — something most people consider as an afterthought, if it’s even considered at all. Internationally, prominent voices like the late Anthony Bourdain, Gisele Bündchen, and even Pope Francis have taken up the cause, while locally, chefs like Oceanside’s Davin Waite of the Whet Noodle and Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub walk the walk with their no-waste inspired menus.
Taking it one step further, San Diego cocktail programs are jumping on the sustainable train, designing drink menus that utilize what could be seen as food waste in creative and delicious ways. One such notable list is at Campfire in Carlsbad, whose bar program is overseen by bar manager Leigh Lacap.
“From a business and ethical standpoint, up-cycling is kind of a no-brainer,” Lacap says. “For example, we discovered that for every pound of mint we buy, we were trashing at least half due to aesthetics. It was heartbreaking. Pounds upon pounds of pulp from juicing fruits and vegetables also get thrown away daily. Not only does it equate to dollars in the dumpster, but all that less-fortunate mint and other byproduct has the same quality flavor the more attractive produce has.”
He continues, explaining that “cocktail bars are major consumers of fresh produce. A single bar can go through several hundred pounds of each, every week — lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, to name a few.” Lacap says that stems and leftover bits from pruning herbs can then be blanched and turned into syrups. Skins and pulp can be blended with sugar or fermented, like tepache, which is made from fermented pineapple. Citrus peels can be utilized for infusions.
“Thanks to the brilliant minds at Trash Tiki [a website for bartenders interested in reducing waste], we started taking our avocado pits and dehydrating them, blitzing them and toasting them to use in place of almonds in orgeat and falernum [syrups],” Lacap details.
San Diego cocktail programs are jumping on the sustainable train, designing drink menus that utilize what could be seen as food waste in creative and delicious ways
Campfire’s “Trash Talk” menu harnesses these ideas and turns them into elaborate tipples. At $9 each, the special menu features cocktails like the “Blind Billy,” with tequila, Suze, grapefruit sherbet, lime, celery bitters, soda and salt; the “No Manches,” with tequila, scrap falernum, fermented pineapple, lime, and Aztec chocolate; and the “Lower East Side,” with gin, salvaged mint, cucumber pulp, spirulina, and lime.
Lacap has a suggestion for bar managers who want to ensure food waste reduction amounts to more than just a buzzy term, imploring others to “create a demand! Put your trashy drinks on menus and make people want them. One bar’s trash is another man’s buzz.” 760.637.5121, thisiscampfire.com Jackie Bryant
Photography by Seth Marquez