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Less Waste, More Nutrition: Drexel’s Food Lab and Terrain Cafe Partner for Weekly Sustainable Menus

September 03, 2020

Three plates of food showing the three courses served during Terrain's special menu

As demand for more sustainable food practices increases, Drexel Food Lab, the culinary innovation lab within Drexel University's College of Nursing and Health Professions, and Terrain Cafe have partnered to meet the challenge. Together, the Drexel Food Lab and Terrain Cafe will focus on up-cycling foods and creating sustainable menus through Terrain Cafe’s “Chef’s Fresh Picks,” a weekly specials menu that runs Friday through Saturday evenings.

“We had previously planned a division-wide sustainability campaign that was halted due to COVID-19,” said Brian Lofink, executive chef at Terrain Cafe and Drexel alumnus. “We thought it would be a great idea for terrain to collaborate with Drexel Food Lab students and staff to develop a more explicitly sustainability-focused menu for September. The idea would be that we could explore upcycling other products from the terrain kitchen, as well as farm suppliers, and do some innovative menu items.”

“Drexel’s collaboration with Terrain Cafe gives Food Lab students a hands-on approach to recipe development with a focus on reducing food waste and increasing nutrient availability,” said Rachel Sherman, project coordinator of the Food Lab. “The students, whose areas of study range from culinary, hospitality and food science to math, nursing and nutrition, are challenged with creating a three-course meal using local ingredients in a unique and sustainable way.”

“This is an exciting collaboration where the students have the ability to learn about food, ingredients, nutrition and the environment in new and innovative ways,” said Deborah Clegg, PhD, associate dean for research in the College of Nursing and Health Professions. “This is an example of a perfect ‘marriage’ between scientists, researchers, health care advocates and chefs in order to create food with a purpose which is healthy and delicious! What they are creating is beyond the common theme of ‘farm to table,’ they are creating foods which are nutritious while reducing our carbon footprint and increasing our sustainability.”

The menus will change weekly and focus on a new ingredient, like corn, tomatoes and squash.

The first weekend, September 4 and 5, will highlight melon through three courses. Each course incorporates all parts of the melon – flesh, seeds and rind, items which are often discarded but each bring different nutritional values. Not only does this reduce food waste and keep it out of the compost pile, but it keeps nutrients on the plates.

The first course is Lancaster Farm Fresh watermelon toast with melon seed butter, oregano compressed watermelon, whipped feta and pickled rind. The second course is Cape May scallops with cantaloupe curry, buckwheat noodles, blistered shishito peppers and spiced melon seeds. The third and final course is Boucheron cheesecake with candied melon rind, melon seed granola and Crenshaw melon sorbet.

Follow Terrain Cafe on Instagram for the latest Chef’s Fresh Picks menus.

The Drexel Food Lab is a faculty-mentored interdisciplinary research group solving real-world problems in product ideation, product development and recipe development. The lab designs affordable, sustainable, delicious and healthy food products that meet three focus areas: sustainability, health promotion and food access. The lab’s mission is to improve the food system and develop the next generation of food industry leadership.