Hay House Radio Episode Recap
- Episode Name: “Celebrity Chef Secrets for a Zero-Waste, Sustainable Planet”
- Live Broadcast: December 11th, 2018 at 12:00 pm Pacific Time
Episode Summary Re-cap
Chef Rob will share tips to turn your kitchen into a zero-waste, sustainable spaceInternational award-winning chef, Rob Ruiz, has been recognized for everything from his innovative food to his commitment to organic, sustainable, zero-waste activism. Recently, he was certified by the James Beard Foundation for his sustainable seafood program. Today, we go behind the scenes in the food and restaurant industry, revealing the good, bad, and ugly when it comes to serving up food. Chef Rob will share tips to turn your kitchen into a zero-waste, sustainable space for serving up delicious food as medicine. Special Guest: Rob Ruiz
An outspoken advocate for responsibly sourced, traceable seafood, Oceanside native Chef Rob Ruiz spent a decade honing his craft in Hawaii where he worked with James Beard award winner Chef Alan Wong before earning an apprenticeship under Japanese sushi master chef Etsuji Umezu. Since returning to San Diego and opening his signature restaurant, The Land and Water Company in 2014 – where his menu of hyper-local, ethically raised ingredients have put him firmly on the map– he has also focused on the culinary community’s role in saving the endangered vaquita porpoise and educating consumers.
Recently receiving global recognition for his dedication to improving fishing and seafood industry practices at The Ocean Awards 2016 held in London by the Blue Marine Foundation and Boat International. He is the Chef/Restaurateur Winner of 2016, who has made the most outstanding commitment to ocean conservation and ongoing mission to raise awareness and consumption of environmentally friendly seafood.
Watch Heather Dane and Rob Ruiz teach a free video class on bone broth, veggie broth and how to create a zero-waste kitchen!
Fraud Alert! Are You Eating Tuna or Indigestible Escolar?
Rob Ruiz had many wake-up calls about fraud in the seafood and restaurant industry while working his way up as a chef. There’s a bait and switch happening with fish all the time. A particularly disturbing one he told us about is passing off low-budget escolar for more expensive and desirable tuna in sushi restaurants.
Escolar are deep water fish that contain a wax ester which is indigestible for most people. In fact, the wax ester in escolar can cause an illness called keriorrhea, causing symptoms like loose bowels and painful stomach cramps. Rob remembers a time when, as a chef, he was following direction from his restaurant owner boss to serve escolar in place of tuna. A sick customer angrily approached him, asking him how he could do this to people. This changed Rob dramatically. He went to his boss and successfully changed the fraudulent practice, then later went on to create a fish fraud and identification process in sushi restaurants.
Now an owner of his own restaurant, The Land and Water Company in Carlsbad, CA, his passion has propelled him to collaborate with organic farmers, scientists, zero waste advocates, fish mongers, and other chefs to create change in the industry.
There’s a good reason why…it’s because we’re all connected. And every creature matters.
“When you start looking at fish by the pound, you only care about price and it becomes a commodity,” Rob says. When this happens, you can lose sight of how the food affects the customer’s health. You lose sight of whether the fish is sustainable or ethically sourced when all that counts is the money. Practices like night fishing to poach endangered fish species become common when there’s a big payoff at the end.
What if we instead placed the highest priority on the health of the plants, animals, fish, environment and customers?
We Are All Connected: Red Algae Bloom
Plankton or algae are small plant organisms that float in the sea. Every year at the end of fall, a natural and normal process occurs where these plankton bloom, becoming phosphorescent. Rob described the color as creating a cool blue-green light in the ocean.
This natural and normal process has gotten out of hand, however. “Factory farming has created fertilizer runoff, which drains into the Mississippi River and then runs into the Gulf of Mexico.” This creates a toxic situation which has, over time, adversely affected sea life, leading to a type of dead zone in the Gulf.
We’re seeing the results of this imbalance along Florida’s Gulf Coast with the red tide or harmful red algae blooms. These blooms have gone overboard, depleting oxygen in the ocean, producing toxins that kill fish, and making shellfish a dangerous food. You may have seen or read about the dead fish plaguing the Florida coastlines, a sign of our climate and environment suffering.
It’s a sign of life dying due to human interference with nature, Rob shared.
4 Easy Ways to Avoid Restaurant Fraud
#1. Remember That All Of Life Is Connected
Every time you eat, you are taking in your connection to the life that gives you life. As you choose your food think about where the food was sourced and how it was treated. Is it organic? Did it have a natural life? In the interconnected web of life, your choice of food grown and raised in harmony with nature is a choice to nourish the entire cycle of life. I truly believe our bodies recognize this choice at the DNA level. As you eat, meditate on this infinite, health-supportive connection. Tuning in to this connection is a beautiful way to nourish your DNA.
#2. Ask Your Health-Focused Community Where To Get Well-Sourced Foods
Find the people in your community who care about health, sustainability, and the environment and ask there where to get the best foods. Ask about restaurants, fishmongers, farmers, markets – anything you want to find. Gathering with a like-minded community is a great way to find the trusted sources of healthy foods. There’s always someone who knows the inside scoop about farm or fishing practices or vendors used by restaurants.
#3. Watch The Trucks Pulling Up To Service A Restaurant
During the off hours, take a look at the trucks parked outside a restaurant. Is it Sysco, a large distributor of processed foods, or a local organic farmer? Rob also suggests asking the chef or staff which farms they buy from. This should especially be transparent in farm to table restaurants. You can learn a lot about sourcing this way.
#4. Get The Gossip From Restaurant Staff
Restaurant cooks and servers are likely your friends or friends of friends. Even if you don’t know them, they often like to talk, especially if they don’t agree with restaurant practices. Ask them what they think and you’ll learn a lot about whether you want to eat there or not!
3 Tips for a Zero Waste Kitchen
#1. Get A Box Of Mason Jars Or Ball Jars And Preserve Your Food Like Your Great Grandparents
Canning is a lost practice from generations past when refrigeration was scarce or non-existent. Rob suggests getting a box of Ball Jars and learning how to can your fish, meat and vegetables. This way, you can buy in bulk to save money or take advantage of your CSA box or garden haul. Properly canned, you can preserve your food for years.
#2. Don’t Be Afraid To Make Mistakes
Rob tells us that the best chefs are the ones who’ve made the most mistakes. Often it’s the mistakes that turn out to be delicious new foods. Try things you might not normally try and it might just be your new favorite recipe! If you do make a mistake with great ingredients, you might be able to correct it instead of throwing it away.
#3. Use The Greens On Beets, Carrots And Other Root Veggies And Broccoli
You know those green tops everyone throws away on carrots, beets, and parsnips? Or the leaves on broccoli? They are full of nutrients and flavor! Save them and make carrot top pesto, braised beet greens, or sautéed broccoli leaves. Rob has an inventive beet green oil recipe for you here!
Rob Ruiz’s Zero Waste Beet Green Oil Recipe
- Greens from 4 beets
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch Sea salt
- Wash the beet greens and remove the stems.
- Blanch the leaves in boiling water and then shock in an ice bath.
- Place the blanched greens on a dry towel and roll the towel to wring out excess moisture.
- Place the greens in a high-speed blender or food processor and add the olive oil to coat the greens and help them spin.
- Add a pinch of sea salt to taste.
- Strain the mixture and reserve the oil for serving.
- Compost the leftover plant matter.
Try drizzling this oil over your favorite salad, sautéed veggies with garlic, grilled fish, butternut squash, or a bed of quinoa for a delicious, unique flavor!
The James Beard Foundation: Going Above and Beyond
“The James Beard Foundation is like the Oscars of food,” Rob said. They have a rigorous program to identify a chef’s level of commitment or leadership in seafood sustainability called the Smart Catch program. The program provides training to chefs to preserve marine life and consumers a way to identify restaurants with sustainable options.
In order to qualify at the committed or leadership levels, chefs must report out all of their seafood orders to show that they are traceable and sustainable. Land and Water is already a certified committed restaurant and Rob is working hard to become 100% traceable and sustainable to be certified at the leadership level. “This is challenging given the size of my weekly orders, but it’s something I’m really passionate about,” Rob shared.
Nominate Rob for a James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Award! Deadline for nominations is December 31, 2018.
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