PEI

Island chef takes creative approach to cutting waste

A Charlottetown chef is taking extra steps to reduce waste at her restaurant. Terre Rouge's Lucy Morrow has gone beyond saving kitchen scraps for soup stock, to fermenting aging produce - or pickling foods - to extend their shelf life.

Lucy Morrow aims to use, or reuse, as much food as possible

Staff in the kitchen at Charlottetown's Terre Rouge take extra steps to reduce waste, including re-purposing foods through the process of dehydration. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

A Charlottetown chef is taking extra steps to reduce waste at her restaurant.

Terre Rouge's Lucy Morrow has gone beyond saving kitchen scraps for soup stock to pickling and fermenting foods to extend their shelf life.

Morrow says she's always looking for creative ways to use, or reuse, food.

"We make fresh mashed potatoes everyday, and with our fresh mashed potatoes we make our filling for our perogies," Morrow said. "Today I made ricotta and then I used the whey from our ricotta to make polenta for our duck dish."

Terre Rouge head chef Lucy Morrow said there are many ways to reduce restaurant waste, from limiting pre-packaged foods to re-purposing leftovers. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

Morrow also uses a dehydrator to repurpose foods. One example is tomato pulp from homemade ketchup being dried then blended and turned into a bright garnish or flavour addition to a meal. The process of dehydrating excess foods also makes them easier to store.

"It may be two litres of pulp, but once you get it into a powder it's about two cups," Morrow said. "It's really nice, something you can play with for a long time and make new flavours and compound spice mixes. It's really cool."

We're running the Earth into the ground, and restaurants are a huge contributor to that.— Lucy Morrow

Morrow said restaurant kitchens have an important role to play when it comes to protecting the environment.

"We're running the Earth into the ground, and restaurants are a huge contributor to that," said Morrow, who notes that restaurants who use a lot of processed foods can expect an endless stream of bags and boxes to unpack and dispose of.

She said working with local, organic producers makes it easier to limit waste.

"When we receive our orders here, there's usually not any bag with it or they come loose, or they are already packaged in an environmentally friendly way."

Morrow says one of the biggest ways to reduce waste is to make as much as possible from scratch, and do it in-house.

One thing restaurants can't control is what customers don't eat. Morrow said her kitchen works to minimize food waste by making portion sizes manageable, and packaging customer leftovers in eco-friendly take-out containers.

'Any little bit helps'

Morrow said striving for "zero waste" is a movement that's on the rise in Canadian restaurants, and encourages Island eateries to see where and how they might reduce or eliminate waste. 

"Just start with the small things," Morrow said. "Even being aware of how many garbage bags you throw out in a day, or creating fewer dirty dishes. It doesn't have to be dehydrating things into powders and making them into new things. Any little bit helps."

About the Author

Jessica Doria-Brown

Videojournalist

Jessica Doria-Brown is a videojournalist with CBC in P.E.I. Originally from Toronto, Jessica has worked for CBC in Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, and Ontario.