The Big Idea 2013: Stem to Root

Published in FSD Update

Stem to Root dishes make use of all the edible, healthy parts of produce such as stalks, peels, rinds and roots.

Kimberley Triplett
Executive Chef/Regional
Operations Support
Bon Appétit Management Co.
Palo Alto, Calif.

We launched a program in our C&U and corporate accounts called Stem to Root. Stem to Root dishes make use of all the edible, healthy parts of local, seasonal produce such as stalks, peels, rinds and roots. We use everything from sage sprigs and lemon zest to watermelon rinds. Stem to Root puts a fresh, unique spin on vegetarian and vegan dishes and minimizes waste while being healthy and delicious. The waste reduction is in line with Bon Appétit’s principles and long-term goals and it reduces carbon footprint.

The station usually consists of two entrées, one vegan and one vegetarian. It’s a full meal for the customers. We also do a lot of juicing with this program, usually from fruit from local farms. So we’ll take an apple and juice it to serve as a beverage for the meal. We will also take the pulp from the apple, freeze it and turn it into something like a lemon grass apple Popsicle for dessert. It’s all about taking a new approach to these items that we would usually throw in the compost bin.

The Stem to Root item could be the star of the recipe or could just be an accent piece. We are working on expanding the core menu items. The real challenge is providing training for the operator who wants to run it and getting the training for the staff. We provide training on a corporate level for our operators.

My biggest advice is if you are using an item that you usually throw away, you really need to test it to see how it works in a recipe. These recipes really need that development process. For example, we had trouble with the peel of ginger root. We found that if we freeze it, grate it and toss it with organic sugar, then it’s OK to use in something like an iced granita. But the point is, you’ve got to play with it. 

Stem to Root items promote using every part of an ingredient, including stems, peels, stalks, rinds and roots. The items help promote Bon Appétit’s sustainability mission.