At the James Beard Boot Camp for Policy Change in May, Chef Katie Button joined fourteen other chefs in Montana to learn together ways to reduce food waste and food insecurity. Chef Action Network assisted in leading the camp as a way for the chefs to brainstorm solutions.
A recent Mountain Xpress article delved into the issues, connecting the ideas Chef Button learned to her restaurant philosophy in Asheville.
From the Mountain Xpress: The boot camp offered Button ideas and inspiration for further developing her waste-reduction strategies and spreading the word in Western North Carolina about how those efforts can translate to the home kitchen. “It was really interesting, because the timing of this particular boot camp and the focus of it are perfectly in line with what we’ve been moving more and more toward,” she says.
At Nightbell and Curate, “we’re really focused on reducing waste,” she continues. “There’s the composting and recycling and things that we do, but it’s also looking at how we order, what products we get from our farmers, asking a farmer, ‘What do you have trouble selling?’ and figuring out what we can do with that. Say they don’t sell a ton of green garlic at the market. OK, I’ll buy it, we’ll pickle it and we’ll put it on our burgers. It’s just a different way of looking at things.”
Although Button acknowledges the value of composting and recycling to create nutrients for crops and keep refuse out of the landfill, she says she and her staff are always studying their trash to find ways to use things that are being discarded. For example, they found a way to use the trimmings from the Sunburst Farms trout that are an ingredient in Nightbell’s popular deviled egg dish and Curate’s esqueixada de montaña.
The move to using Apple Brandy Beef was part of Chef Button’s dedication to reduce waste and create a more sustainable food community. Read more about this effort in a recent blog post.
In addition to controlling waste and food preparation within the restaurant, Chef Button endeavors to work more to help with food insecurity in Buncombe County.
Another fact that really hit home for Button is “that one in four children in Buncombe County don’t know where their next meal is coming from — they’re food-insecure — and that’s much higher than the national average. … I think we can, hopefully, in Asheville, improve that number, and that’s the goal of many of the not-for-profit organizations that are out there, but I think I can be part of the advocacy and support in that area.”
Although she already does a lot with MANNA FoodBank and the Downtown Welcome Table, she says, “I haven’t really been that persistent about it, and what I took away from the boot camp is that I can do more.”
Read the full article by Gina Smith here.