Sustainable America Blog

Can You Host a Dinner Made From Salvaged Food?

Salvage Supperclub diners dine in a dumpster

Salvage Supperclub, a pop-up dinner served in a (clean) dumpster. Photo: Tanya Bhandari


Little by little, Americans are becoming more aware of the problem of food waste. For instance, you may have heard that we throw out more food than plastic, paper, metal or glass. Or perhaps you read about how New York chef Dan Barber is temporarily transforming his restaurant Blue Hill into WastED, a pop-up restaurant where guest chefs will cook with food that’s usually tossed, like kale stems, leftover juice pulp and carrot tops.

Barber’s concept isn’t entirely new. When designer Josh Treuhaft learned about the food waste problem several years ago, he decided to start Salvage Supperclub, a pop-up dinner series in New York where all the ingredients were food items that would’ve otherwise been thrown away.

Treuhaft started his supper club two years ago while he was earning his masters degree at the School of Visual Arts. The idea for creating a meal from food discards came to him after making carrot juice. He looked at the perfectly good remains from his juicer and wondered: What can I do with this? He posted a photo to Instagram and asked what to do. The ideas poured in: slaw, soup, Bolognese sauce and more.


The first meal was a collaborative dinner thrown together in Treuhaft’s studio. It was comprised of ingredients donated from classmates, local restaurants and, of course, a juice bar. They made bread from hard leftover white rice, broccoli stalk and carrot peel salad, coffee butter from used coffee grounds, and banana ice cream from very, very brown bananas. The eclectic six-course menu was a success.

From there, Salvage Supperclub moved into a more formal setting with guests seated in dumpsters–scrubbed clean of course. Fruits and vegetables were sourced from local farms, farmers markets, co-ops and restaurants, and the guest list grew by word-of-mouth. Treuhaft recruited holistic chef Celia Lam, who was attending the Natural Gourmet Institute at the time, to handle the cooking.

The pair has partnered ever since to source the meals, and Lam designs the menus with inspired creativity. Admission prices have ranged from “pay what you want” to $100, and most of the proceeds from the eight dinners they have held thus far have been donated to local nonprofits like City Harvest. Treuhaft’s dream is to see these meals popping up all over the country hosted by you and me.

Host Your Own Salvage Supperclub
If you’d like to try your hand at hosting your own Salvage Supperclub-inspired party, we’ve just published a step-by-step guide on IValueFood.com. It’s a fun way get together with friends and do something positive about the food waste issue. Visit IValueFood.com to learn more and get started!

READ: How to Host Your Own Salvage Supperclub

Larissa Zimberoff
Sustainable America Contributor

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.


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