Should Bread be Repurposed? brings the bread menu holder to our attention. Le Pain Quotidien, a Belgian chain with franchises in N.Y. and L.A, uses bread with slices to store menus.

“Cool idea” is the prevailing sentiment in the commentary below Jason Kottke’s photo of the menu holder on flickr. I have to disagree. While it’s by no means the most flagrant wasting I’ve seen, it sets a bad example. Food shouldn’t be furniture or a play thing. The menu holders may get hard, but at one point they could have gone to better use.

Le Pain Quotidien’s publicist Lauren Goldblatt said that all U.S. stores employ these doughy decorations.  I called up a couple of New York stores. One employee said they make the holders by cutting fresh bread every other morning and another said they use old loaves from the end of the day. The store doesn’t sell day-old bread, but they do donate excess food to City Harvest

Bread is near the bottom of the informal donated foods hierarchy, because it’s so readily available. That doesn’t mean we should start making bread sculptures. But the bread menu holder is better than one made out of something like a pot roast.

I’m curious to hear your take on the bread menu holder. If nothing else, I guess it shows that food waste has become….quotidian.

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  1. Emily
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    JB – I went to a wedding where each person’s table assignment was similarly displayed using a granny smith apple with a slit cut into it. I have to say, it looked very cool. And while some people just pulled their card and left their apple, some of us took the whole thing and enjoyed the snack later.

  2. Seth
    Posted August 28, 2007 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    JB – The loaf of bread in that photo looks great. Rather than waste perfectly good bread on a menu holder, please have them send any loaves they don’t want to me. I’d be happy to make sure they all get gobbled up.

  3. Jonathan
    Posted August 28, 2007 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    I bet the apple table assignments were cool looking, but I doubt they were making pies with the remains. I’m glad you snagged a snack.

    Seth, very noble of you to volunteer your services. Perhaps I should put you in touch with Ms. Goldblatt…

  4. regan
    Posted January 25, 2008 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    That’s just gross

  5. Joanne
    Posted June 12, 2008 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    On a similiar note, I think that the bread basket given out at most restaurants is a pretty bad offender. How often have you seen a huge basket of bread given to a table for two. Perhaps a couple of pieces of bread are taken and the rest is thrown out. I have been to a few restaurants that will give out bread by the piece. I think restaurants should be encouraged to go this route. Putting a big bread basket on every table is just asking for waste.

  6. Posted January 8, 2009 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    At the first restaurant I worked at in high school, we used to take the undesirable pieces of bread from our sliced loaves and throw them into a bucket. We later turned that into breadcrumbs, meatloaf and meatballs.

  7. Posted October 11, 2010 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    It does seem to me to be a waste of food, surely there is a way to preserve the bread so that they do not need to replace it so regularly? It is a nice design idea though, not only that but it’s unique and has got people talking about the restaurant!

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