PORTLAND, MAINE -- With the price of food soaring, Maine looks to its clever food-saving chef at Inn By The Sea for tips on using everything and wasting nothing in the kitchen.
Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich of Sea Glass Restaurant at Inn By The Sea helped his grandmother in the kitchen of their home in his native Argentina, learning in the process that "nothing went to waste. You bake bread today, tomorrow you make bread pudding. My grandmother respected local farmers and fishermen too much to waste the food they produced," he recalled.
A longtime advocate for farm-to-fork, trawl-to-table and fresh seasonal menus, the chef sees the culinary and artistic sense of using up the entire vegetable when possible, rather than tossing stalks, stems, fronds or leaves into the compost bin.
"Rather than using just the florets, a thin slice of a whole broccoli lightly grilled, with stems intact, is delicious, healthy and beautiful on the plate," states the chef. "Presenting the entire vegetable brings attention to simple, lighter fare with an appreciation for the whole plant. It elevates the vegetable from a side to focal point on the plate just as more guests in Sea Glass are requesting vegetarian or vegan menu options and focussing on health."
Root to Stalk makes sense from a "waste not" view. With global studies showing 40 to 50 percent of food produced being wasted, using it all up is better for the planet. It also pushes chefs to find culinary gems in what was formerly relegated to the compost bin."Leaves, stalks, fronds and roots can introduce new, sometimes earthy pungent flavors, a crunchy texture, or a new presentation that opens doors to delicious recipes, inventive menus or a visually appealing culinary experience," Chef Kaldrovich believes.
Beets are a favorite in Sea Glass. Beet tips are used for vinaigrette, great for salads, but also used by the pastry chef in red velvet chocolate cakes. Braised beet greens, as well as radish leaves, are treated like kale, while the beet itself is marinated, braised for salads, roasted and added to quinoa. Used raw, beets are sliced thin like a radish to add a crunchy texture, or fried for delicious, colorful chips. The chef's summer menu features beet slaw with peeled, thinly sliced broccoli stems, tender broccoli leaves and light vinaigrette.
Kaldrovich uses carrot and celery fronds and leaves both in soups and salads, or to make salsa. "They can be bitter but are very healthy and, used sparingly add flavor to soups, a mixed salad or slaw and are good in chimichurri."
Another vegetable that the chef favors is parsley root. He uses the leaves as an herb for flavor but also to produce the base for his Argentinean take on pesto -- chimichurri. The stems are used for stock for the daily soup offering in Sea Glass, which is always vegan. "Parsley root is a beautiful vegetable," says the chef. "It tastes like parsley flavored carrot and is wonderful to combine with other root vegetables such as potatoes and parsnips. It can be baked, pureed or fried. I love root vegetables because they can still be found in winter and early spring when it's tough to find fresh produce."
The chef doesn't limit Root to Stalk philosophy to vegetables. In Sea Glass, the same concept applies whenever possible to meat, Gulf of Maine seafood and lobster.
Wasted food usually ends in landfill, where it generates methane gas. No food is wasted at Sea Glass because local farmer John Tibbetts composts all food waste, and his rich soil amendment is put back into both the farmer's fields and the inn's gardens.
The Inn by the Sea is 1 1/2 hours from Boston.