University of Portland GM Transforms Scraps for Chic Meal in a Dumpster

A full menu of dishes from food that, in less skilled hands, might be destined for the waste bin

Bon Appétit Management Company has long pursued many paths to prevent food waste, but to date, creating fancy dinners has not been a main focus. That may change now that General Manager Kirk Mustain at the University of Portland in Portland, OR, successfully rose to the challenge of creating elegance from remnants at the request of an organization called Salvage Supperclub.

University of Portland General Manager Kirk Mustain addressing diners in the dumpster dining room

Salvage Supperclub seeks works with local farmers and food businesses to create unique experiences around untapped sources of edible food around the world, from New York City to San Francisco, from Canada to Thailand to Japan. Its recent event in Portland featured a multicourse vegetable-forward al fresco dinner in the group’s signature “dumpster dining room” ( a clean dumpster fitted with a communal table and benches created with salvaged wood from The ReBuilding Center, a nonprofit that supports the reclamation and reuse of salvaged materials).

A former chef turned GM, Kirk joined forces with local chef Lauren Chandler of Lauren Chandler Cooks and chef-owner Chris Bailey of Pozole to the People to transform surplus bakery bread, strawberry tops, spent coffee grounds, and juice pulp — all of which had been destined for the trash — into a gourmet experience. One dish of panisse (made from leftover hummus and chickpea flour) served over wilted greens with aquafaba aioli, roasted garlic, and fennel fronds was a real showstopper.

Urban Gleaners and The ReBuilding Center enjoyed the profits from this unique event. The incredible food changed many attendees’ minds about what constitutes food waste, while the many beautiful images posted on social media spread the message far and wide.

Surplus salad bar ingredients thoroughly transformed into roasted cauliflower with mustard seeds, tomato and chili chutney, pickled red onions, curried cashews, and fresh cilantro

Submitted by Kirk Mustain, General Manager