Shuggie’s – a San Francisco-based startup slated to open in the spring of 2021 – is raising funds on Kickstarter to open its pizzeria concept with a twist: a menu made of wood-fired pizza cakes made from food waste. Every pizza (and other menu items), aptly referred to as “trash pies”, is made from frequently discarded ingredients such as offal, ugly produce, and leftover grain from breweries and oat milk plants.
Shuggie’s hails from the minds of Ugly Pickle Co., a San Francisco cucumber company with a similar concept and mission to sell gourmet cucumbers and spreads made from discarded products and plant parts like carrot topped chimichurri and roasted root hummus.
Chef David Murphy and Kayla Abe, who have a background in sustainable agriculture, co-opened Ugly Pickle Co. two years ago after meeting and working together at a farmers market. What began as a way to support fellow farmers’ colleagues by buying unwanted products that were too small, too big, or too misshapen to make sauces, spreads, and cucumbers, became a cucumber company with the message of reducing climate change by Affect food waste.
Two years later, Ugly Pickle Co. is nominated for two Good Food Awards, and Murphy and Abe are ready to start their next green business. Shuggie’s Pizza, they say, is a natural offshoot of the Ugly Pickle Company:
“Food waste has always been a sore point in our food system and it’s the first way we can affect climate change,” said Murphy. “Climate change and the support of farmers are our focus, as is the production of delicious things. Treating a topic like food waste through something like pizza makes the topic very approachable. We want to show people that you can minimize food waste in your everyday life. “
When Shuggie’s opens in the first quarter of 2021, the menu of pizzas, salads and natural wines will be prepared with ingredients like stems and leaves from plants like carrots and cauliflower for salads and herb sauces, offal and fried brains and so many other “leftovers”, how they can contain (hot peppers, for example, will never be leftover, Murphy said), and “ugly” tomatoes and peppers from local Lucero organic farms in Sacramento County.
“Once you slice an ugly radish, it looks exactly like a beautiful radish inside,” Murphy said.
While Shuggie’s isn’t necessarily adding cheek and fried brain pizzas to the menu anytime soon, these different cuts of meat will appear in other entrees.
“Viewing this waste as scary is such a cultural thing,” Abe said. “So many cultures around the world eat these delicacies and we don’t know them that well. That’s why we’re introducing them to more people so they can eat more sustainably.”
But Murphy said it was imperative that their pizzeria be known for having delicious pizzas, not just a smart gimmick on the menu. They serve Neo-Neopolitan pizza with a crispier crust than traditional grandma pizza, whipped ricotta garlic knots with radish pesto, and starters made with “garbage fish” like anchovies and melts (“things low in the food chain”). Said Abe.)
Although Shuggie’s was in the works before the COVID-19 success, the goals of their project evolved when the pandemic affected several parts of the foodservice supply chain.
“[With COVID] We see how much product is wasted because supply chains are broken and how vulnerable farmers are, ”Abe said. “This has exposed the long-standing cracks in our food system. We hope to be able to quickly include different types of products that restaurant owners usually say no to. “
In addition to serving a unique twist on pizza, Abe and Murphy also want to educate people about the impact their food choices – no matter how small – have on the environment.
“People feel disempowered when it comes to combating climate change because it feels insurmountable,” Abe said. “We want people to know that you can use your stomach to influence the future of the planet.”
For their part, Abe and Murphy want to waste as little food as possible in their kitchen. If their four-day dough gets a little too fermented, Murphy says they’ll only use it as breadcrumbs, for example. But while they are very aware of the ingredients and waste that comes in and out of their restaurant, Shuggie’s is not committed to a zero waste facility because, as they say, there really is no such thing as a zero waste establishment. Instead, they will do their best to be a closed ecosystem.
Murphy said he believes Shuggie’s has the potential to grow into new markets, but for now they are focused on opening the concept in spring 2021 and seeing how well it resonates with the community.
“If someone told me I could save the planet by having a slice of pizza, I would do it all the time,” Murphy said.
Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]
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