When Bread’s Not Toast (and when it is)

Last week, I got to visit with Aaron French, better known as the Eco-Chef. Aaron French, the Eco-ChefAaron is the chef at the East Bay eatery The Sunny Side Cafe and an all-around green (and great) guy. Part of his eco sensitivity means cutting down waste in his kitchen.

To do that, Aaron has tried a few things over the years, cutting down on the portions of home fries served and letting people ask for seconds if they’d like more. He also lets diners choose between five options for those breakfast sides to make sure they get something they want to eat. And he’s cut down on the number of cheeses offered, because he couldn’t get certain ones in small enough quantities.

Before.But what I was most impressed by was the bread policy at the breakfast and lunch establishment. Today’s hamburger buns and French bread become tomorrow’s French toast. I had to see the latter to believe it.

The “Orange French Toast” repurposes the locally-baked poppy rolls into four slices of deliciousness. To do so, Aaron trims the top and bottoms of the roll, small sacrifices that are ultimately composted. Then after halving the roll, he dips them in orange-flavored batter and slaps them on the grill.

After.Aaron learned the hard way that he needs to use a wooden griddle press to flatten the rolls. Before he did, customers recognized that they were buns and complained. Funny, though, there are no complaints when people don’t notice that they are “hamburger rolls.”

[As an aside, specialty breads like hamburger buns and hot dog rolls are among the baked goods most commonly wasted.]

The menu describes the toast as coming from poppy bread, which doesn’t tell the entire story. Yet, when you think of it, that’s what it is. And since the bread is fresh and local, seems like a great idea to me (especially after enjoying this French toast). What do you think?

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