How's this for a lunch menu:
Fresh Roasted Turkey with Avocado Dressing, Bell Pepper, Red Onion and Tomato
Oven Seared Soy Skirt Steak
Oven Roasted Ratatouille with Eggplant, Onion, Bell Pepper, Zucchini, and Fresh Basil
Roasted Yukon Potatoes
Mixed Greens Salad with Cucumber, Tomato and Mustard Cider Vinaigrette
Fruit Salad with Cantaloupe, Apples, Pears, Strawberries and Grapes
Where was the lunch served and how much was it you might ask? It was at the C.H.I.P.S. Soup kitchen in Park Slope Brooklyn and it was free and hopefully was enough to feed over one hundred people. It was largely made with donated food mostly from the Park Slope Food Coop and labor supplied by volunteers or Coop members doing there shift. The fruit and produce that the Coop donated was produce that a regular supermarket might have thrown out. It was edible and usable but not really sell-able, maybe because an apple or tomato was bruised, or the lettuce was starting to rot, but the inner leaves were still good. It makes you wonder what would happen if all our food distributors, supermarkets and restaurants took part in programs like this. Would there be any hungry people in this country? Especially in today's economic climate this should be how we use our food system. But I guess fear of legal issues or the labor/time costs of picking through the produce is a factor of why it doesn't happen. Just the same.....
Today also took a whole lot of cooperation by some really cool people, which is part of the coop's name and mission. When I got to the kitchen Serita Lewis, volunteer project leader (not a coop member) was there and were bemoaning the fact that there wasn't enough vegetables. So I called the coop and coordinator for the CHIPS shift, Camille Scuria happened to be there and got the receiving coordinator, Miriam Eusebio on the phone. Miriam went to our produce cooler and had two member, Janet Curley and Becca Schleifer bring 8 boxes of produce to the kitchen. Becca and Janet stayed to help me pick through the boxes and they even stayed to make a fruit salad and along with Seritat, Yasko and Jorge, plus the second shift of Coop members we banged out a great meal.
I'm proud to be associated with a venture like this and would encourage other people to take the initative to do likewise. It's great training for a new chef to develop thinking skills, improvisation skills and how to use ingredients. If you can make a good meal like this using random leftover and half usable food imagine what is possible with no limits?