Recipes: Greg Christian's eco-friendly cooking

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Pesto Shrimp hors d'ouevre: Fisherman's Daughter shrimp in a pesto sauce, resting on a tortilla chip, with Genesis Growers butternut squash, garnished with a tiny green

For 10 appetizers:

10 medium shrimp

10 tortilla chips

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 cup fresh basil

1/2 cup olive oil

Salt

Pepper

1 Butternut squash

10 micro greens/sprouts

In blender, combine basil, parmesan cheese, oil, salt, pepper. Sautee shrimp until golden brown and mix with pesto. Cut squash into cubes and roast until soft. Place a piece of squash on tortilla chip; top with shrimp. Garnish with a sprout or micro-green.

Brie Rosemary Crostini hors d'ouevre: Melted Crave Brothers Petit Frere on a grilled crostini with Ricci's pecan and Earth First Farms apple compote

For 10 crostinis:

1 baguette

3 oz brie (local choice-Crave Brothers Petit Frere) ½ cup pecan halves

3 apples

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To toast baguette, slice into diagonal slices and grill on each side. Place a slice of brie on the crostini and bake until melted.

For apple compote, chop apple into pieces and cook on the stove in a small pot add some butter and water until soft. Top crostini with apple compote and pecan half.

Entree: Autumn Harvest Salad-Genesis Growers spinach, purple scallions, butternut squash, and Earth First Farms empire apples in a miso squash cider vinaigrette, topped with a Country Cottage Farm fried egg. Garnished with Mick Klug concord grapes, Genesis Growers purple cauliflower.

For 10 salads:

1 lb baby spinach

3 purple scallions

1 butternut squash

3 apples

1 tbsp miso

one-half cup apple cider

10 eggs

1 large bunch concord grapes

Cut butternut squash into cubes and roast in oven with olive oil and salt until soft. Put in blender with miso and apple cider; blend. Cut scallions diagonally into bite-size pieces. Cut apples into bite size pieces. Cut cauliflower into small pieces and blanch for 1 minute. In bowl mix all ingredients minus the egg, grapes, and cauliflower . Plate and top with a fried egg. Garnish with grapes and purple cauliflower.

Greg Christian calls himself "Chicago's Conscious Caterer." In April, he announced a Zero Waste Kitchen. All products used in his kitchen are now recycled or composted. He also founded Organic School Project (OSP), the pilot, not for profit program within Chicago Public Schools that works to provide youth with a foundation for a sustainable lifestyle through school-based wellness programming initiatives.

For more information, log on to www.getmegregs.com and www.organicschoolproject.org

(Press Release)

CHICAGO, IL - Greg Christian Catering is proud to announce their kitchen as the first ZERO WASTE catering operation in Chicago. In partnering with Chicago's Resource Center, a non-profit environmental education organization focused solely on sustainability, all of the waste from products used in Christian's kitchen is either recycled or composted. Christian not only implements this cycle within his kitchen, but on site at the various events he caters. According to Ken Dunn, founder and director of the Resource Center, Greg Christian is the first chef in Chicago to implement a zero waste kitchen operation through his center.

Christian began working with the Resource Center in July 2007 and accomplished his zero waste initiative in April 2008. He initially saw composting as a challenge within the kitchen, as his staff was not accustomed to sorting and separating all garbage within their work space. In order to aid with his staff's hands-on education, Christian removed garbage cans from the kitchen for a couple of days. "It's certainly not as easy as people think it is to separate garbage in kitchen," says Christian. "However, after only a few days, my staff caught on and each item is meticulously separated and rinsed when necessary to cooperate with the Resource Center's guidelines."

The kitchen uses several containers to ship to the Resource Center, with each container holding a different category such as: aluminum and tin cans, glass bottles, food, cardboard, paper, and plastic wrap along with all other plastic food containers. Normally much of the plastic is difficult to recycle, however, the Resource Center works with playground manufacturers that will take the items for reuse. Even the grease used in Christian's kitchen is reused, as a bio-diesel truck takes the grease for fuel. (note: this is not through the Resource Center.)

Additionally, many of Greg's employees bring in their personal items from their homes to add to the collections taken by the Resource Center. The Resource Center has eight trucks that collect materials every week day, four on Saturdays, and two on Sundays.

"Greg is really in the minority and can be complemented on the fact that his perspective is excellent in all locations, beyond just what the customer sees" says Dunn. "He is responsible in every aspect- in his kitchen, garbage, food use and presentation. Greg has the philosophy that everything in his organization must be the best it can."

Dunn started The Resource Center based on his own experiences of working on a farm before industrial agriculture. In the 1940's, Dunn participated in very responsible farming until the farm grew in size and profit, thus switching from the natural way of farming to fertilizers and pesticides. After a few years of this new system, Dunn realized that he was not in agreement with many of its practices. He later created the Resource Center and made the sustainability mission his life's challenge. He saw economic forces moved people in the wrong direction, following the wrong standards, and he believes that profit making will not get us a sustainable society or community that is healthy. He continues to work to develop new standards and maintains a philosophy to be kind to planet and be responsible to the work force.

Christian and Dunn share the belief that individuals can only make significant changes if we see and experience pleasure and enhancement of each thing we are doing responsibly. "For example in Greg's case of being a chef and working with food, he focuses not on the taste and presentation alone, but on his sustainability measures," says Dunn.

In addition to recycling and composting everything within his kitchen, Christian uses only local and organic produce when possible, buys his dairy products from farms in Wisconsin, and purchases meat from farms in the Mid-west that are free of growth hormones. He also practices water conservation, offers re-usable living botanical centerpieces, provides invitations printed on recycled paper, uses biodegradable service ware and eco-friendly cleaning supplies and donates un-served foods to local food banks. "That knowledge of the entire process should give us the most positive experience in the way we choose to eat," says Dunn. "Greg is a perfect example of how we can reduce our impact on climate change and species loss based on pleasure and not on guilt."

"My job isn't to make food taste good," says Christian. "That's a gift I have and I'm blessed to have a gift, so that's going to happen. What's important is being part of a system that was meant to be and to respect that natural system. I ask myself, 'is it respectful not to compost or recycle, or to use vegetables enhanced with chemicals, meat with hormones, or food flown in from thousands of miles away?' No it is not. I have a lot of passion for what I do, but when I keep it simple and take the emotion out of it, and always answer the question of respect, it comes naturally. I feel I'm doing the right thing."

About Greg Christian Catering and Events Greg Christian, recognized as Chicago's Conscious Caterer™, has been catering fresh, gourmet cuisine for the past 16 years. In addition to healthy, sustainable cuisine, Greg Christian Catering is committed to on and off-site composting and recycling. The newly launched "Greening of Events" service program will practice water conservation, offer re-usable living botanical centerpieces and donate un-served foods to local food banks.

Additionally, Greg Christian Catering and Events offers natural, healthy, organic sustainable menus, invitations printed on recycled paper, biodegradable service ware, eco-friendly cleaning supplies and numerous other details that help transform Chicago corporate meetings and parties, weddings and special events into green events.

For more information about Greg Christian Catering and events, please visit www.gregchristian.com. For more information about The Resource Center, please visit www.resourcecenterchicago.org

(Chef's Bio)

Greg Christian, recognized as Chicago's Conscious Caterer™, has seventeen years of experience delighting guests at intimate gatherings and lavish spectacles alike. Chef Christian boasts a philosophy that transcends mere culinary innovation, as he sees beauty in the life food represents. He specializes in local and organic cuisine, customizing his catering menus based on seasonality and locality. Chef Christian strives to make his catered events sustainable in every way.

Chef Christian boasts the first "zero waste" kitchen in Chicago, recycling, composting or reusing everything in his kitchen and at his catered events. He uses only local and organic produce when possible, buys his dairy products from farms in Wisconsin, and purchases meat from farms in the Mid-west that are free of growth hormones. He also practices water conservation, offers re-usable living botanical centerpieces, provides invitations printed on recycled paper, uses biodegradable service ware and eco-friendly cleaning supplies and donates un-served foods to local food banks. In addition to his catering ventures, Christian founded Organic School Project (OSP), the pilot, not for profit program within Chicago Public Schools that works to provide youth with a foundation for a sustainable lifestyle through school-based wellness programming initiatives. Under Christain's guidance, OSP seeks to transform Chicago-area children into healthier, more mindful eaters, one school and one child at a time.

Christian was trained at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, and his dynamic career includes catering to prestigious clientele such as: Harpo Studios, Microsoft, Huron Consulting Group and the US Green Building Council . He was formerly the sous chef at the renowned Gordon Restaurant and still caters events yearly at the Masters Golf Tournament and Kentucky Derby.

As a leader in the Green Business Industry, Christian is an active member in the US Green Building Council, the Chicago Sustainable Business Alliance, the Governor appointed HB1300 task force and a is founding member of B-Corporation.

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