the hydroponic garden at institute of culinary education in new york city helps eliminate food waste

The Zero Waste Food Conference Hosted by ICE and The New School

A Culinary Industry Call-to-Action

In the United States, 40% of food is wasted each year. This staggering figure sets off alarm bells: the status quo is unsustainable (pun intended). That’s why ICE and The New School organized the first-ever Zero Waste Food conference — to drive the conversation surrounding eliminating food waste and increasing sustainable food production.

The conference — a culinary industry call-to-action — brought together chefs, scholars and entrepreneurs including keynote speaker Massimo Bottura, chef and owner of Osteria Francescana; Dan Kluger, chef and owner of Loring Place; Kate MacKenzie, senior director of programs at City Harvest; Doug Rauch, founder and president of Daily Table and Conscious Capitalism; Bill Telepan, executive chef of Oceana; Missy Robbins, chef and owner of Lilia; Jaime Young, chef and owner of Sunday in Brooklyn; and Michael Laiskonis, pastry chef and ICE Creative Director.

These industry leaders and conference attendants gathered at ICE and The New School to explore better methods for the way we produce, distribute, consume and dispose of food in the environments where we cook and where we eat. Attendants enjoyed two days of panel discussions, culinary demonstrations and hands-on classes.

The panel discussions covered such topics as designing sustainable restaurant kitchens, forming more sustainable connections within food chains and repurposing food waste, from ugly vegetables to the byproducts of food production. The demonstrations provided an exciting and tasty counterpart to the discussions.

Guests looked on as Madi Holtzman and Devin Hardy of Toast Ale USA turned unused bread into delicious beer (with requisite samples, of course) and ICE Chef Charles Granquist butchered a whole Mangalitsa breed hog while serving various salumi. Then, participants were able to roll up their sleeves and learn food-waste-fighting techniques like cooking entire fish — fins, tails and claws included — with Chef Bill Telepan, and fermenting veggies, dairy and more alongside Chef Jaime Young. (Check out the full lineup here.)

During his keynote address, Chef Massimo Bottura said, “When I began cooking, I would have never imagined that chefs, they can be the voice of change.” Nowadays, chefs and food producers can be that voice. And their message at the Zero Waste Food conference was clear: there’s so much we can do in our everyday practices to further the fight toward eliminating food waste.

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