CHICAGO - Inside a tiny North Center restaurant, they're thinking about a huge problem.
"The world is falling apart around us and anything that we can do to make it better, we should do," according to Rob Shaner, the owner and executive chef of Robert Et Fils restaurant.
Chef Shaner and Pastry Chef Cati Molnar strive to have zero food waste when they cook at the restaurant on North Lincoln Avenue. For example, last week's asparagus peels will poach this weekend's monkfish and last summer's plum skins can top dessert.
Molnar says she, "took some of the skins and dehydrated them, and then was able to take that out and grind it up and use it as a powder which then becomes a garnish."
And she says it’s delicious!
They opened this French restaurant during the pandemic. They’ve served food for take-out only, and no one has ever dined inside.
Shaner says, "I say we opened in August but in my mind, we're still waiting to open. This has kind of been a pop-up for the past year."
Striving for zero food waste is certainly about helping the earth and respecting farmers, but the chefs say it also helps their budget.
"As a small business during a pandemic, it's more important than ever to avoid waste. You can really squeeze extra pennies and dimes out of your produce by doing these sorts of things," said Shaner.
The chefs believe this kind of thinking should be happening in all kitchens, both at restaurants and inside homes. They say it’s good for the environment, your pocketbook and it’s delicious.
At Robert Et Fils, striving for zero food waste is the recipe for Earth Day and every day.