by Quan Do ’19, Zilkha Summer Intern 2016
For almost a year now, Jim Guiden, Charlotte Clark and James Godfrey at the Faculty House have adopted a new strategy to combat food waste: drying several types of leftover herbs and vegetable waste. The products – an assortment of mushroom essence, lime essence, orange essence, dried mint, rosemary as well as many other herbs – boast fresher taste and help reduce the amount of seasoning the kitchen has to order monthly.
Catering Chef Jim Guiden pointed out it all started last year at an event they catered for the Environmental Center when they noticed the herb garden was overgrown. “We asked Mike if we could possibly use some of the herbs,” Jim recounted. Assistant Catering Chef Charlotte Clark remembered there were so many herbs that they filled up an entire long table in the kitchen. The team then laid the herbs out in sheet pans and let them sit in the oven for 6 to 8 hours at the lowest heat setting. Afterwards, they ground the dried products in the blender. This collection of essences that they made using the garden produce lasted them through most of the winter.
This inspired the staff to start drying some of the vegetable waste. As Chef Guiden noted, a couple decades ago the kitchens started composting their waste; then the LeanPath system was installed to track down the amount of pre-consumer waste – such as vegetable stems or peels – so that the staff can have a better idea of the cost of wasted ingredients and devise strategies to reduce it. Now, drying herbs, stems and peels not only drives down the amount of pre-consumer waste but also offsets some of the cost of buying herbs and spices. Right behind the Faculty House, Catering Cook James Godfrey has started an herb garden that fully fulfills the kitchen’s need for herbs in summertime. The Director of Dining Services, Robert Volpi, also purchased a dehydrator to help the kitchen with the drying business.
When asked, the team unanimously agreed that they would love to come down this year to the Environmental Center garden to gather the herbs. We are extremely grateful to the dining services staff for sharing with us their unique and delicious sustainability story!