Chef Michael Ayoub founded Fornino in 2004.

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Food & Ingredients

Fornino’s Upcycled Menu Turns ‘Leftovers’ into Fancy Fare

Renowned Chef Michael Ayoub will demonstrate how upcycled ingredients can be incorporated into an artisanal pizza menu.

Michael Ayoub, the celebrated owner/chef at Fornino in Brooklyn, will work wonders with “leftovers” while striking a blow for restaurant sustainability in a collaboration next month with UP, Inc. and The Spare Food Co.

For an event dubbed “Waste Not, Want More,” Fornino’s Greenpoint location will offer a special upcycled menu from November 7 through 21. But, to be clear, the ingredients aren’t really the kind of leftovers you might be picturing. They will consist of UP, Inc.’s ReGrained SuperGrain+ and The Spare Food Co.’s Spare Tonic and Spare Starter.

Throughout the two-week promotion, Fornino customers will be able to order specialty pizzas featuring dough made from ReGrained SuperGrain+, an upcycled flour derived naturally from brewer’s spent grain, and toppings that include The Spare Food Co.’s Spare Starter, described as “a pioneering chef-crafted, upcycled six-crop nutritious culinary shortcut.”

Also available will be a sangria made with The Spare Food Co.’s Spare Tonic, described as “a climate-friendly probiotic sparkling tonic made with upcycled whey.”

To kick things off, UP, Inc and The Spare Food Co. will bring together industry leaders, press and friends for a private event at Fornino on November 6 to showcase the power of sustainable upcycled ingredients. The night will feature a preview of Ayoub’s upcycled menu, along with a few extras.

This photo shows a Fornino employee in front of the wood-burning oven
Fornino / Facebook

Using patented technology, UP, Inc.’s ReGrained rescues the nutritious grain left over in the beer-brewing process. That grain, according to the company’s website, isn’t “spent” at all; it’s still loaded with fiber, protein and other nutrients and is upcycled for ReGrained’s baking mixes. In addition to pizza, ReGrained mixes can also be used in brownies, carrot cake and banana bread.

For its products, The Spare Food Co. buys whole crops from farmers and uses every last bit, from rib to skin and root to stem. The company’s Spare Tonic is a canned beverage featuring fresh whey and other upcycled ingredients, with flavors that include Blueberry & Ginger, Cucumber & Lime, Lemon & Ginger and Passion Fruit & Yuzu. Meanwhile, Spare Starter is a veggie-blend starter mix that can be used for stews and ragus and as toppings for pizzas, flatbreads, tacos and more.

As Forbes.com has reported, upcycling could combat the $940 billion global food-waste problem and help reduce the  70-billion-plus tons of greenhouse gases generated by food loss and food waste, creating new jobs and products in the process.

According to the Upcycled Food Association, more than 30% of all food produced globally is lost or goes to waste, creating problems for our society and our planet. Upcycling turns surplus food into new, high-quality, innovative products.

A task force created by the Upcycled Food Association came up with an official definition of upcycled food in 2020: “Upcycled foods use ingredients that otherwise would not have gone to human consumption, are procured and produced using verifiable supply chains, and have a positive impact on the environment.”

This photo shows Fornino's Eggplant Parmesan Pizza
Fornino’s Eggplant Parmesan pizza (Fornino / Facebook)

Ayoub founded Fornino in 2004 and has been credited with igniting the artisanal pizza movement in New York City. Fornino now has three Brooklyn locations, including its flagship in Greenpoint, a seasonal location at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 and a permanent place at Time Out Market New York. Ayoub also will join forces with Brooklyn Brewery to bring innovative pizzas that integrate beer in the dough-making process to its new location at 1 Wythe Avenue in 2024.

Fornino’s menu provides a historical approach to pizza with First Generation—Neapolitan, Second Generation—Regional Italian and Third Generation—Original Fornino varieties, all made in a wood-burning oven.