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On Friday, Shake Shack partnered with James Beard Award-winning chef Dan Barber to bring customers a one-day special to bring leftovers back to life.
Starting at 11 a.m. at its Madison Square Park location, Shake Shack began selling its limited supply of WastED Juice Pulp Cheeseburgers. The burger, which is made up of leftover pulp from cold-press juices, first debuted at WastED, a three-week pop-up at Barber’s Blue Hill restaurant in Greenwich Village focused on creative reuse of food waste. The purple pulp patty is topped with all-repurposed products—from the bruised beet ketchup to the Jasper Hill cheese trimmings. The bun is made from a mix of rehydrated stale rye bread, and even the pickles on the side come from irregular cucumber ends that would otherwise have been discarded. Somehow, this hodgepodge of flavors and textures harmonizes into a bite that Shake Shack’s culinary director Mark Rosati says satisfies the entire palate.
“When I tried Dan’s burger, I felt there was almost a kinship between how we at Shake Shack think about constructing a sandwich — that’s making sure each component on its own is absolutely delicious and can stand by itself,” Rosati says. He described the burger as sweet and earthy, with a kick of heat provided by the dollop of grainy honey-mustard mayo.
When Barber first approached Shake Shack to see if any stores had useable food waste for his creation, the company had a bittersweet revelation: after checking in at all of its New York City restaurants, the team found that none of them generated enough food waste to sustain the 21-day pop-up. While Rosati says it was an exciting discovery, Shake Shack still wanted to find a way to get involved with Barber’s creative reimagining of food waste.
“The way [Barber] thinks about food is really different than a lot of other chefs,” Rosati says. “I can’t think of a better person to bring more attention to all the waste that’s in the supply chain of America.”
With the Juice Pulp Cheeseburger, Barber took on the popular cold-press juice trend and created a sustainable solution for its byproducts, creating a patty with enough tooth to best the best of veggie burgers. Rosati, who came from a fine-dining background himself, says the Shake Shack team was happy to provide an outlet for Barber to get his message and menu innovation to the masses, if only for a day.
“To do something in more of a ‘fine-casual’ atmosphere, fine-dining chefs can take their creativity and sensibilities and bring those to a lot more people,” he says. “To bring Dan’s genius and knowledge of ingredients to more people — I think that’s just a win for everyone.”
Barber’s restaurant, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, was just this month honored with a James Beard Award for best restaurant. The 500-WastED burger supply didn’t last the day at Shake Shack’s newly re-opened Madison Square Park location, where each burger was sold for $8.95. A dollar of the proceeds from each sale was donated to City Harvest NYC.
By Emily Byrd