Garden picnic table with bountiful food
April 24, 2024

Zero-Waste Culinary Innovation: Less Waste, More Creativity

In honor of Earth Week, we are showcasing Executive Chef Augusto Caudillo’s culinary point of view that offers a tantalizing blend of aesthetics, innovation, and nutrition — a testament to his love of cooking, sustainability and bringing people together.

Chef Caudillo is passionate about creating dishes that use every part of the ingredient, from root to leaf, and from nose to tail. “There is satisfaction in simplicity, quality and nourishing dishes” Chef Caudillo says, and he delights in the creativity of no-waste cooking to be both sustainable and cost-effective. One of the first dishes zero-waste dishes originated from the need for hibiscus syrup for a signature margarita, “in the process of making the syrup, the hibiscus flower that was steeped in water to make the base was discarded. I took the discarded hibiscus flower, sautéed it with onions, tomatoes, peppers, and put it on a housemade blue corn tortilla and made a beautifully moody and tasty taco” said Chef Caudillo.

Vegan Hibiscus Tacos

Here are two new highlights from his zero-waste culinary dishes at The Steward Santa Barbara:

Yogurt Marinated Chicken 

Zero-Waste Yogurt Marinated Chicken at The Steward Santa Barbara

This dish features a whole chicken that is marinated in yogurt and a blend of spices, then roasted to perfection and served with gremolata. The chicken is sourced from Jimenez Family Farm in Santa Ynez, where the chickens are raised humanely and fed organically. Chef Caudillo uses every part of the chicken for different purposes: the bones and scraps are used to make chicken stock, the tenders are used for the kid’s menu, and the wings are offered as a special during happy hour. The chicken is served with vegetables from the same farm and chickpeas. The liquid from the chickpeas is not thrown away, but instead goes to the bar, where it is used as an egg substitute to make vegan and gluten-free cocktails. The chickpea liquid, also known as aquafaba, can be whipped into a foam that resembles egg whites and adds a creamy texture and fizziness to drinks.

Moroccan Spiced Roasted Carrots

Roasted Carrots

This dish showcases the versatility and flavor of carrots, which are also grown at Jimenez Family Farm. Chef Caudillo roasts the carrots with a blend of spices then serves them with labneh, a thick and tangy yogurt cheese that he makes in-house. To make the labneh, Chef Caudillo strains plain yogurt until it becomes thick and creamy, and uses the excess liquid from the yogurt to make the marinade for the chicken dish. He also uses the tops of the carrots, which are often discarded, to make a pesto that adds a fresh and herbaceous touch to the dish.

These are just two examples of how Chef Caudillo transforms simple ingredients into complex and flavorful dishes, while minimizing food waste and maximizing sustainability. If you are curious to try his other creations, you can visit The Steward’s website and make a reservation. You will not only enjoy a bountiful meal, but also support local farms and a socially conscious approach to dining.


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