Cooking with food waste has officially tipped the trendy scales. The concept now has its own TV series, called Scraps, which launched in late May on the FYI network. Sponsored by Sur La Table, the half-hour show features the cookware retailer’s chef Joel Gamoran and other chefs who create menus made with often-tossed items, like herb stems, broccoli stalks and chickpea water.
Scraps, which is executive produced by Katie Couric, is as upbeat and lusciously shot as any food show today. Gamoran takes viewers to food-forward cities like Charleston, S.C., Brooklyn and Portland, Ore., to work with local chefs and ingredients to make dishes that reflect each area, like spent-grain biscuits in Asheville, S.C., and country ham ends in Atlanta.
The episodes I watched avoided dwelling on the more sobering reasons for reducing food waste, like environmental impacts and the persistence of hunger amidst waste. Instead, the show focuses on the untapped potential of food scraps most cooks overlook and demonstrates how cooking with them can be fun, creative and satisfying. So, if you’re a cook not motivated by guilt to save and chop up your carrot tops, the tasty-looking recipes you can make from them will likely persuade you.
The show focuses on a mix of common ingredients — stale bread, bruised fruit, greens stems — with harder-to-procure items, like peanut flour (a byproduct of peanut oil production), caul fat (a thin membrane that surrounds an animal’s organs) and spent grains from beer brewing. It would be nice to see more accessible ideas, but the show does shine a light how much today’s chefs care about this issue and the tremendous opportunities we have to use our food resources more wisely and creatively.
See for yourself. Here’s the Asheville episode:
Scraps ultimately illustrates how wringing the most flavor and use out of our food makes sense for chefs and home cooks alike. After all, the ability to use every bit we buy contributes to the bottom line. (I especially liked this tip: Trim off those spindly scallion roots, sauté them until crisp and use as a garnish.) For those who want to dive deeper, Sur La Table is offering Scraps online cooking classes that feature the recipes made on the show.
You can watch Scraps, which is almost halfway through its 10-episode season, on FYI Sundays at 10:30 pm ET. The episodes, and a few recipes, are also available for free online for a limited time after they air.
If you want more ideas for reducing food waste in your own kitchen, sign up for our I Value Food: Too Good to Waste Challenge, a self-guided program that helps you zero in on what you’re wasting and gives ideas for wasting less.