The Restaurant That Served Literal Garbage To Its Customers

Imagine dining in an upscale restaurant, one of those types of places that are so exclusive you need to call ahead half a year in advance to make a reservation. Besides all the rumors and speculation, you really don't know much about this place or what it serves. The little you do know simply talks about how this restaurant "offers patrons a new way of dining through unconventional culinary methods and bold, waste-free cuisine" — whatever that means. You grab the menu and browse through it, only to wonder if this is all some kind of fancy, pretentious joke. Banana peels served in truffle oil? Stewed bones in fat drippings? Bread crusts served with butter made from expired milk? What is all this?

It's no secret that restaurants all across the world have a bad habit of wasting food, whether it's tossing bits of food they deem "unappetizing" or throwing out supposedly inedible parts of fruits, vegetables, and meats. The World Food Programme even estimates that 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted per year across the globe.

One restaurant has actually decided to use these scraps of food as a "canvas" to explore new culinary horizons. According to Forbes, a pop-up restaurant known as "wastED" appeared in 2015, serving up dishes made from everything including stale bread, cheese trimmings, lettuce butts, and other foods that are usually tossed in the trash. 

Is this just to make a statement or is there actually some appetizing about what we consider "garbage?"

The restaurant is the brainchild of chef Dan Barber

According to Eater, Dan Barber's restaurant isn't unconventional just in the sense of what it serves but also seems to be a departure from his usual work. Barber is the co-owner and chef at Blue Hill in New York (and its sister location, Blue Hill at Stone Barns). At first glance, the idea of opening up wastED appears to be a sudden shift from Barber's work in the restaurant industry.

Barber's work, however, is primarily focused on educating people about food waste and how what we eat affects the world around us. Blue Hill claims its mission to be about creating a "consciousness about the effect of everyday food choices" while wastED explores repurposing food waste as something that can be considered "gourmet." Barber's restaurants, permanent or pop-up, seem to be about educating people on the values of conservation in the culinary world.

Pete Wells of The New York Times visited wastED's New York location in 2015, where he dined on dishes such as monkfish wings, "repurposed" buns, pig feet croquettes, and fried fish skin. Wells even noted that the tables customers dined at were grown from fungus and "compostable materials." Wells did claim that while some of the food was hard to get down, the overall experience wasn't as bad as one would think.

While you may not want to eat pig feet and fish heads, we can all agree that cutting down on food waste is a noble goal.