Industrial designer Josh Treuhaft has hosted dumpster diners in Brooklyn, Berkley and San Francisco.
The Salvage Supperclub
Credit: © Tanya Bhandari

Some dinner parties take place at fancy tables... and some take place in garbage receptacles. That's the case for the Salvage Supperclub, an event that aims to draw attention to the food waste epidemic. Industrial designer Josh Treuhaft has established the dumpster diners in Brooklyn, Berkley and San Francisco to highlight vegetable-forward dishes utilizing commonly tossed-out ingredients—in a very unique setting.

One NPR reporter joined the supper's guests and organizers in San Francisco in June for a one-of-a-kind dinner, which was served in the back of a large, "decked out dumpster," made classier by the addition of tea lights and tasteful wooden benches. On the menu that evening were ingredients like bruised plums, overripe vegetables, sweet potato skins, garbanzo bean water and banana peels—things that would go straight to the trash in most kitchens. The simple dishes, like eggplant and squash ratatouille and mini veggie burgers, were created by chef Pesha Perslweig with approachability in mind. And, according to the writer, everything served was "finger-licking good."

"The idea behind this multi-course, veg-forward tasting menu is for eaters to see the incredible potential many of us fail to see in our food," Treuhaft tells NPR. The designer, who focuses on sustainability in his work, hopes to "engage people and get them excited about food waste prevention, so we sent less food to the landfill or compost."

The quirky setting served the purpose of drawing attention to the dinners, and the San Francisco proceeds went to Food Runners, a nonprofit organization devoted to donating uneaten food from restaurants, caterers, and other businesses to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and low-income housing. The group helps to make 5,000 meals a day by rescuing 16 tons of excess food every week, in an attempt to help feed the city's large number of homeless and hungry. Salvage Supperclub also sourced ingredients from a group called Imperfect Produce, who rescues "ugly" fruits and vegetables via a subscription box.

Chef Perlsweig says, "I hope my guests come away from my dinner with a new outlook on how they're using and not using food in their kitchens." By using disgarded ingredients in innovative and delicious ways, she aims to show everyone that food waste not only can be used, but used to make extraordinary things.