A new restaurant focused on the sustainable practice of cooking with foods that would otherwise be discarded is planning an opening in San Francisco's North Beach.
Shuggie's Trash Pizza & Natural Wine, from co-owners Kayla Abe and David Murphy, joins a trend of highlighting food waste and "ugly" produce that has been most notably championed by Bay Area-based Imperfect Foods. The pair founded Ugly Pickle Co. in 2018, which uses vegetables that would otherwise be discarded to make its products, which are sold at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market.
Calling their company "a radical paradigm for our new era of sustainable consumption," the Ugly Pickle Co. website says, "Hearing about the crippling effects of food waste firsthand from farmer friends, Kayla and David felt impassioned to help mend these broken links in our food system."
They say that older generations were far more sustainable in their treatment and consumption of food. "It is only in our modern consumption economy that we've started applying beauty standards to our produce, deeming perfectly delicious yet 'ugly' veggies unfit for consumption," the pair says.
The idea for a pizza restaurant dates back a few years, as the couple tells the Chronicle, primarily because pizza is a versatile enough product to make use of a range of food products that would otherwise go to waste. They'll be using a tofu byproduct, okara flour, in their pizza dough; otherwise forsaken vegetable products like blemished tomatoes and carrot tops will go into the pizza toppings; and Murphy says that he intends to use uncommon meat products with a whole-animal ethos, like pork jowl and smelt. And, yes, there will also be pepperoni.
Shuggie's Trash Pizza & Natural Wine is aiming for a spring opening at 1230 Grant Avenue (formerly The House restaurant, which closed after 26 years in July) — and they're currently crowd-funding some support via Kickstarter. They're seeking $45,000 to help with the buildout of the restaurant and opening expenses, and they've raised over $7,000 so far. (Pledges of $300 get "date-night" dinner kits with two pizzas and garlic knots, as well as Shuggie's bandanas.)
"We're rescuing as much [produce] as we possibly can to make the world's most sustainable pizza," says Murphy in a promotional video.
And as Abe tells the Chronicle, "We want to make it easy for people to take climate action through their food. And we can do that by making it affordable and fun and really friggin’ tasty."
Another business in a similar vein, tentatively named Duna Kitchen, was floated by former Bar Tartine chef Nick Balla back in 2018. Balla said he wanted to potentially open a restaurant and commissary kitchen in the Bayview that would be devoted to using food waste — and he said at the time that he'd become sort of a go-to chef for local food businesses, like Good Eggs, looking to offload unwanted produce.
And given that the Bay Area has become a hub for these kinds of enterprises focused on sustainability, we can likely expect to see more as the restaurant industry hopefully gets back on its feet next year.