Rethinking Junk Food for the Planet (and Ourselves!)

This is a guest post by Samuel Monsour, Chef of jm Curley in Boston, MA

Earth Dinners mission and the philosophy of jm Curley’s food and beverage program are parallel. We believe that as a restaurant serving thousands of patrons a week, we have a greater obligation to source responsibly, support local commerce, and continuously educate ourselves and our staff on the importance of sustainability, all the while, considering our foot print and how we can make the very best impression on the planet.

This spring, at jm Curley, we decided to present our seasonal offerings in a fashion that we hope might raise some awareness about the environment . We called the concept “the future of junk food”, not as a proclamation, but rather, a hope for progress.

jm Curley Earth Dinner BoardWe’re trying to inspire Americans to think outside the box and expand their paradigm in regards toward sustainable eating. The farm-to-fork movement grew its roots within white tablecloth establishments over thirty years ago, and it still flourishes within this scene. We’re trying to spread the word to diners that sustainable eating can exist elsewhere. Anywhere for that matter. That’s why we took it to the extreme. To prove a point. We chose a style of cuisine that has never seen seasonal produce, local ingredients, or livestock raised with compassion and integrity. We chose junk food.

Our goal was to accurately represent the spectrum of food typically labeled as junk, so we developed recipes modeled after products from companies including Krispy Kreme, KFC, Kraft Foods and Frito Lay. What’s truly amazing is that nothing on our menu is actually junk, because we make our versions from scratch using natural, wholesome ingredients. We have successfully pulled off being able to satisfy the craving for junk food while simultaneously supporting sustainability.

To me, this menu represents a blueprint for progress! If we can recreate these foods while practicing conscious sourcing methods, then there is no excuse for huge food companies (like the ones mentioned above) to not be doing so as well. I guess all I’m saying is, if you’re going to eat processed cheese, why not get down with some locavore “velveeta”?

My favorite junk food item right now has to be the morel “easy cheese.” It took me many months of obsessing, deconstruction, and rebuilding to figure out how to empty, sanitize, fill and charge an easy cheese can. I’m really into table-side aesthetics, so it wasn’t enough for me to just make a delicious morel mushroom easy cheese. It HAD to arrive to the table in a spray can so that the customer could make their own bites, just as we all did growing up. Instead of ritz crackers, we are serving the cheese with slow rise toast and seasonal accoutrement, which right now includes radish ruby and English peas.


spring doritos – la nina corn tortillas, dehydrated beet powder, citric acid, salt…6

house easy cheese – morels, english peas, radish ruby, slow rise toast………………….9

jelly donut (fried in bacon fat) – basil crystals, strawberry-rhubarb filling, foie gras glaze…6

double down – fried chicken, curry mayo, micro cumin, pea shoots, mint, jmC hot sauce….10

organic hot pocket – grilled leeks, vermont reading raclette, spring dug root veg, tiny tempura surprise……9

jmC bologna – brambly farms hog, pickled green tomatoes, locavore velveeta, spring garlic mayo…12

Posted by: Alisha Fowler

One Response to “Rethinking Junk Food for the Planet (and Ourselves!)”

  1. Calgary Caterers Says:

    I think the thing is, unfortunately, is those companies design food so that you crave it, rather than enjoy it.

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