Drexel University Food Lab Leads Again

The Lempert Report
December 11, 2020

The Drexel Food Lab has just created a new partnership focused on upcycled food and reducing food waste.

First the disclaimer – I am a graduate of Drexel, but the Food Lab didn’t exist when I went there. Drexel is known for its co-op program where students get real-word experience along with a top notch education.

The Food Lab has just created a new partnership focused on upcycled food and reducing food waste. It’s a creative partnership funded by The Claneil Foundation to imagine new recipes that are sustainably focused for Terrain’s Garden Café in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. Each three course menu revolves around a single produce item – tomatoes, corn, melons, so far – with the upcycle goal of using all parts of the plant; including those not typically incorporated into a recipe or served on a plate. For example – tomato peel powder, fried corn silks or pickled watermelon rind. Jonathan Deuth, PhD is the founder and director of the Food Lab and I have had the pleasure of interviewing him a few times before – and he lays it out quite simply: The number one way to reduce food waste is source reduction and full product utilization. He argues that upcycling can lead to new culinary heights by opening the door to unusual and new flavor combinations, and that could lead us to a new way of thinking and eating – as long as these combinations taste great. As I’ve said many times before – the barrier to many new “healthier” foods in the past has been taste. I don’t care how great it is for us, or the environment, taste is still #1.

Let’s get back to tomatoes. That 3 course menu included a bouillabase entrée with confit tomato as a starter, a panzella salad which is chunks of tomato and fried green tomato croutons tossed together as the main course and for desert a tomato gelati that’s made with ricotta ice cream, tomato and strawberry granite, basil and tomato seed pudding and tomato powder.

Deutch says that the best chef in the world can’t be more creative than a bunch of culinary students.