Taste the Waste: Food Waste Challenge at Linger

A small group of chefs and industry professionals gathered at Linger in Denver on the night of Tuesday, September 27, 2016, to explore the possibilities of minimizing food waste.

According to the USDA, food loss and waste in the United States accounts for approximately 31 percent, or 133 billion pounds, of overall food supply available to retailers and consumers. This event was an opportunity to showcase ways to think differently when planning menu items, what ingredients can be incorporated into menus made from food that is typically thrown out.

The challenge for the chefs was to create a dish using 50% (or more) components derived from products on their respective menus that would otherwise have been tossed out. They each had a copy of their restaurant menus highlighting where the ingredients for the competition dish came from.

The Colorado Restaurant Association and Certifiably Green Denver hosted the “Taste the Waste Food Challenge” in order to create a platform for restaurants to share ways to reduce, recover and recycle food waste. CRA President and CEO Sonia Riggs stated, “We hope this event creates an opportunity to develop and promote innovative approaches for reducing food loss and waste. This is also a great way to reduce costs in an environment when restaurants are getting squeezed from every angle.”

The event was tied into the CRA Sustainability Week seminars, where national specialists lead discussions at statewide chapter seminars joined by local experts, Sept 26-30.

Chef Kevin Grossi of The Regional won the grand prize of $1,500 for his Apple Cobbler with avocado-pit streusel, salted apple core caramel, with potato and apple skin pastry. Funded by Tundra Restaurant Supply and Edible Beats, grand prize was determined by a panel of sustainability experts and government/city officials that acted as official judges.

The event's host, Justin Cucci of Edible Beats, presented the awards to the winners stating, “It is amazing to see what can be created from what we normally consider kitchen waste. These chefs are all to be congratulated on creating some delicious dishes with creative ingredients.” Chef Grossi also won an award for “Most Creative Use of an Ingredient” and Spencer Hysell of Root Down, DIA won the “People’s Choice Award.”


  • Trevor Gaughan of Russell’s Smokehouse, created Smoked Salmon Belly Ceviche, with Pork Belly Consommé, spiced pepper seed, scallion relish.
  • Burton Koelliker of Osteria Marco, created Tuscan Ribollita Zuppa with Ricotta, Prosciutto di Parma, San Marzano Tomato, Grilled Ciabatta.
  • Aloy Modern Thai, created Spicy Chicken Pops, a combination of food left over from the day’s menu made into a meatball, always with an added kick! The chefs eat this all the time.
  • The Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, created Wagyu Ranch Steak with rosemary parsnip puree with Jumpin Goat Farms Blue Cheese, and crispy tobacco onions.
  • Jason Ganahl of GQue BBQ, created Cutting Board Scraps made from beef brisket, pork shoulder and roast turkey chopped together and served on a lettuce cup with pickled red onion.
  • Laurent Mechin of Jill’s Restaurant & Bistro, St Julien, created salmon belly tamale with corn and pepper salsa smoked with corn silk and onion peels.
  • Spencer Hysell of Root Down DIA, created Seared Cobia with root vegetable peel and old Bay Beurre Blanc.
  • Mike Tortorello of Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox created Corn Cob Parmesan broth with smoked catfish tail, fennel fronds, pickled watermelon and cilantro stem oil.
  • Kevin Grossi of The Regional created Apple Cobbler with avocado-pit streusel, salted apple core caramel, potato and apple skin pastry.
Categories: Events