Photos by Luis Ruiz | @larufoto
A healthy preoccupation with food waste inspires a former Blue Hill chef to create a sparkling whey-based beverage that’s good for body, planet, and conscience.
When you descend from a lengthy line of culinary entrepreneurs, there’s a good chance you might one day work in the food industry. If you also developed a deep social consciousness from your childhood in South Africa, it just makes sense that you would eventually become consumed with how much food goes to waste — and the effect that has on the planet.
That’s the story of Adam Kaye, a Mamaroneck resident and former longtime chef/culinary director at Pocantico Hills’ Blue Hill at Stone Barns. “About one-third of the food grown and produced in the U.S. never gets eaten,” says Kaye. But where others view this excess as waste, Kaye sees it as “overlooked ingredients and untapped goodness.”
Along with his brother, Jeremy Kaye, he began to explore ingredient streams that were not being utilized and were undervalued. “We kept coming back to whey,” says Adam. No wonder, he notes, as 70% of the Greek-style yogurt produced in the U.S. occurs in New York, and the byproduct of that culinary process is whey. “A billion pounds of whey is produced in New York State alone,” he says. “That’s literally oceans of whey, and it’s a massive headache for the dairy industry, which can’t just flush it to get rid of it.”
The Kaye brothers decided to purchase whey from their favorite small-batch yogurt maker, White Moustache of Brooklyn, and while the world was quarantining during 2020, they transformed it into a healthful, fermented, effervescent elixir at the COVID-shuttered River Outpost brewpub in Peekskill.
Canned and available in four bright, revitalizing flavors (blueberry & ginger; cucumber & lime; lemon & ginger; peach & turmeric), the aptly named Spare Tonic is high in protein, B vitamins, rehydrating electrolytes, and gut-healthy probiotics while low in calories and sugar (honey and/or fruit are the sole sweeteners). “Whey is an incredible superfood,” Jeremy says. “It was prescribed by Hippocrates as an immune serum, and that’s documented in his writings from 400 BC.”
Spare Tonic is available (at press time) at all DeCicco & Sons stores, a handful of specialty shops and restaurants in Westchester and NYC, and online and via Fresh Direct.
“Reducing food waste can stop and even reverse the impacts of climate change,” Kaye points out. “By shifting our perspective and making the overlooked essential, we can do our part and feed as many people as we can with the bounty we have.”