Dumpster Diners In Every Sense of the Words

Diners feast on recycled food inside an actual dumpster.
Diners feast on recycled food inside an actual dumpster.
photo c/o The Wall Street Journal

The supper club has become commonplace in Brooklyn—a gathering of individuals usually with some strange commonality (like your sister’s yoga teacher’s paleo-diet buddies), who pay for a set menu at someone’s Greenpoint loft or rented out vegan bistro. But Josh Treuhaft, creator of Salvage Supperclub and recent graduate from the School of Visual Arts, has reinvented the model with an eco-friendly twist.

Last week, the latest incarnation of the Salvage Supperclub, which Treuhaft began back in March, hosted sixteen open-minded foodies in an emptied and scrubbed dumpster, where they dined on a six-course meal of all salvaged food, some of which had been discarded because it was deemed aesthetically unappealing. Prepared by Chef Celia Lam and other kitchen assistants, the diners were presented with dishes both tasty and beautiful. The menu showcased everything from beet tartare and eggplant puree to watermelon rind pickles and peach-peppermint sorbet, and all for the relatively low cost of $50, which is then donated to City Harvest.

Treuhaft graduated from SVA’s social innovation master’s programs, where he studied the intersection between food and waste. Based on the widespread misconception that food with discoloration, bruises, or a long-since-past expiration date is both gross and harmful, Treuhaft is trying to recondition the way people look at and use their food. From just this past Salvage Supperclub, an estimated 1.8 pounds of food per person was recycled from groceries, homes, and restaurants that would’ve otherwise thrown it out.

While the supper clubs are scheduled to continue around Brooklyn, Treuhaft has bigger plans in mind, bringing his waste-conscious ways to the online world. Future plans include a website and corresponding app where individuals can share recipes or submit photos of spoiled foods and receive expert advice on how to prepare it. Ideally, this would lead to people across the country hosting their own Salvage Supperclub in a venture Treuhaft has aptly named, Eat Everything.

Passing by a dumpster of Brooklyn’s gentrifiers may look like an annoyingly pretentious Portlandia sketch, but if there’s one thing to take away from the Salvage Supperclub, it’s about looking beyond what’s on the surface, discolored through that surface may be. In a city where we spend ungodly amounts of money on eating out and dining in, any initiative which can save money and lower waste percentages is something with which we should all be on board.

Follow Brie Roche-Lilliott on Twitter @BrieRocheL



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