Neon Tummy

Too much food when other people are starving

I’ve long believed that chefs can radically reduce food waste by planning better, prepping less food, and donating leftovers, in that order. Other strategies, such as “tray-less dining,” help in “all you care to eat” settings, such as college dining halls. I recently decided to put my beliefs to the test. In doing so, I realized the limitations of my good intentions and how tough it can sometimes be to put ideas into practice.

I attended a chefs’ competition — a real one, without squadrons of makeup artists, predetermined “secret” ingredients, or unseen hours of washing and prepping ingredients — for Bon Appétit Management Company chefs. This semiannual Northern California Chefs Exchange started at 7 a.m. with a butchery demonstration, followed by a farmers’ market trip and then a tutorial on artisanal tofu making. By noon, the 32 chefs I accompanied on their morning journey were as hungry to compete with each other as they were to eat each others’ creations……

Food waste happens, especially when feeding a crowd. Fewer guests show up at events than expected, an inexperienced chef or host that genuinely wants to demonstrate generosity orders far too much food. But donating leftovers has its complications too, even with the best of intentions at play. Most agencies want familiar food, not “fancy food.” And like the rest of the population, they want meat. For those of us on the giving end, it’s important to experience our embarrassments — and get over them. Reducing food waste is critically important for humanitarian and environmental reasons, but donating prepared food has its challenges. Perhaps this means we need to work harder at not having so many leftovers in the first place.



Just as the pre-holiday season begins, esteemed food critic Jonathan Gold delivers an early present to LA food lovers: Jonathan Gold’s 99 Essential LA Restaurants of 2011. 

Regarded by many as the greatest gift of food a hungry Angeleno can ask for, Gold’s highly-anticipated listfeatures his top picks for restaurants that should not be missed in the City of Angels, accompanied by his review of each.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic has not only earned the respect and admiration of journalists, but has also become a culinary authority in the eyes of foodies and restaurant-goers alike.  Gold has become a source of epicurean wisdom, and is trusted by many to seek out the “best-of-the-best” in LA dining.