DC Refined: How Garrison is curbing food waste, one cocktail at a time
“Ordering a cocktail at Garrison on Barracks Row is one small way you can help fight food waste. Chef and owner Rob Weland and his team are giving their kitchen scraps a second chance at the bar instead of tossing them in the garbage.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 40 percent of food in the United States is wasted, and Weland believes chefs have an obligation to reduce waste in their own kitchens. “I think chefs have always been taught that you have to find ways to use things and not fill the pail,” he says.
Each year, Americans throw away the equivalent of $218 billion of food. Restaurants certainly can’t afford to toss profits in the garbage. “The margins are pretty tight. You can’t throw half of your vegetable away, or a third of your vegetable away,” Weland adds.
Environmental concerns are also driving Weland’s food waste crusade, since uneaten food rotting in landfills produces significant amounts of methane emissions.
Since Garrison opened, reducing food waste has been a top priority for Weland in the kitchen. “We’ve always been very careful. We have clear garbage bags for a reason,” he says. “It’s very easy to throw the ends of zucchini away or the trimmings from potatoes, but it’s just a matter of doing the research and really understanding how to refabricate these into something special.”
Recently though, they’ve expanded their efforts by collaborating with the bar team to turn the scraps into cocktails. “We’re doing our best to extract as much as we can from them, because they certainly don’t deserve to be thrown away.”
Bartender Nick Moyer is leading the mixology efforts, working with oft-discarded items like strawberry hulls, tomato cores, and more. Two cocktails on the menu right now incorporate scraps.”
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Featured photo courtesy of Garrison.