The Plan to Eat Podcast

#55: Interview with Low-Waste Chef, Max La Manna

April 26, 2023 Plan to Eat Season 1 Episode 55
The Plan to Eat Podcast
#55: Interview with Low-Waste Chef, Max La Manna
Show Notes Transcript

Today's interview is with social media influencer and low-waste chef, Max La Manna. For one year, Max La Manna asked his social media audience which foods they threw away the most, and using the tens of thousands of responses, he narrowed down a list of thirty of the most commonly wasted ingredients, which serve as the foundation of his new cookbook. You Can Cook This!  is a solutions-based guide, with practical ideas for using up the whole vegetable, transforming leftovers, and storing food to maximize freshness.
In this episode, we talk about his new cookbook, what led him to write it, and tips for reducing food waste at home. Enjoy!

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I'm Riley and I'm Roni. And this is the plan to eat podcast, where we have conversations about meal planning, food, and wellness. To help you answer the question what's for dinner. 

Roni: Hello and welcome to the Plan to Eat podcast Today it is just me on the podcast. Riley wasn't able to make it to this recording. So I am here for the interview. And today I gotta interview Max la. He is a self-taught chef and award-winning author. He has, gained a big following on social media because of the way that he just puts his heart into his content. He talks about that a little bit in this interview where he just really tries to be his most authentic self online and it's really, drawn a crowd.

To him on social media. So he recently came out with a cookbook, it's called You Can Cook This and it, the basis of the book is that it is a guide for practical ways to, [00:01:00] take the food that might be going to waste in your kitchen and in your refrigerator and actually make recipes out of 'em.

So in this interview we talk about the most common foods that get wasted. We talk about what that food ma waste means, globally and for our society. Um, we also talk a little bit about food labels, such as like, Best before and sell by labels and what those mean. Um, and Max also gives a ton of tips for, just ways to reduce your food waste.

So I hope you enjoy this episode today.

Well, thanks so much for joining today, max. We appreciate you being on the podcast.

Max: Roni, thank you for having.

Roni: Yeah. So why don't you just tell our audience a little bit about who you are and what you do.

Max: Ooh, who am I? I'm still, I'm still trying to figure out who I am. It's, it's taken me some time. I'm, well, what I do know is that I'm, I'm Max La Manna. I'm a low waste chef, author, digital creator. I create simple, delicious plant-based dishes using up [00:02:00] food that we often see as waste. Uh, and I've just released a new cook.

Roni: Yeah, which is what we're here to talk.

Max: Yeah, very excited.

Roni: Before we get into the book, I do wanna know a little bit more about you. Um, you're pretty popular influencer on the social media channels. Uh, what got you started in content creation?

Max: Great question. I didn't really want to move in the direction of creating social media content. Uh, I've always kind of stayed away from. The internet, uh, for as long as I could. And then friends kept, you know, poking me and telling me, not like Facebook Poke, but like kept like, dude, you need to go on social media.

You need to show people what you're doing cuz this is really cool stuff. Like, we like what you're doing and we want to see what you, you know, it'd be fun to check in and see what you, what you're doing. This is six years ago. And so I eventually kind of had a, you know, look myself in the mirror and say, Okay, if I'm gonna do [00:03:00] this, if I'm gonna create content, it needs to be inspiring, it needs to be educational, it needs to be ins, you know, transform the way people see food.

So I need to help people and. That it has to be those principles. I can't not, I, I'm not going to be somebody who's just gonna sell products after products, after products. Cuz that's, you know, six years ago, I, that's all I felt. That's what I saw. Only were, were people influencers showing, hey, buy this and here's a 15% discount code.

You know, max, max 15. And so I just thought, okay, I just need to use this as a, as a channel, as like a, as a, as an opportunity to help people. So I did that and little by little I started, you know, gaining traction and media started seeing what I was doing. Television saw what I was doing. So little by little, I think my message and what I, what I do on a regular basis was, uh, being, you know, being shared and seen [00:04:00] by, uh, millions of people around the world.

Roni: That's cool. I'm sure that you showing up in that way that feels most authentic to you probably draws more people to you.

Max: Yeah, I think, I think that's, you know, that was a question I was asked the other day, like, why, you know, why do you think people enjoy this content? And I think it's just being the authentic person. I think we can tell if somebody's being overly uh, inauthentic. Um, for lack of better words, like you just know.

You can call it out. You can see it. And sometimes in a world like today, you don't wanna have this, this beautiful world that people live in and their social media and their Instagram stories or their posts. You wanna see the real thing. And, and, and I try to be real as every time I, as I, I come to the, come to my phone, I come to the, come to a camera or a screen.

Roni: Yeah, I think we all probably see a little too many ads at [00:05:00] this point in our lives. Right. That's really cool. So what brought you to be, um, a chef? A self, a self-taught chef? Right.

Max: Yeah. I have always been around food. I love cooking. I love sharing food. I love feeding people. I love seeing the look on people's faces when they eat food. And I, of course, love eating food too, myself. So, It was kind of the, the only job I ever did. I, I pursued other careers. I was always working in food, in hospitality, working front of the house, waiting tables, uh, serving people, bartending, and I've, and I've worked the back of the house where I was, you know, washing dishes to cooking on, on the line at, in a restaurant.

So I did that for about 15 years and. I just, I just always just loved being around it and wanted just to continue, um, working in that space, whilst I was pursuing other careers, I was a model and an actor at [00:06:00] one point in stage of my life, um, that didn't keep the, the, that didn't pay the bills. That was just like this lofty dream and a goal I had and, you know, working in restaurants did.

And then one day, you know, you come to you, you have to actually realize, okay, is. Going to work if I just keep, and then I hear these stories of actors like, it's been 40 years, you know, and they haven't, they've never gotten a job before. And it's like, I don't think I was gonna wait 40 years. Like, there comes a point in time where you feel like, um, all right, I gotta make a decision.

I'm, I'm a doer. And so I'm like, am I gonna do this? Yes or no? Okay. It's, I don't think it's gonna happen. Let's keep moving. What else do you want to do? Um, and so I figured out, well, what's the one thing I've been doing my whole entire life and what's one thing that brings me joy and happiness is food. So I just kept doing that every single day until things started falling, fall into place.

Roni: [00:07:00] I think that, uh, I've known several other people who have had a similar situation where they just like, it's such a big, lofty goal, but I think more than any other profession, probably, like being an actor or a model is like, you're, it's a really like 1% of the population that gets to do that.

Uh, it's really tough.

Max: Yeah, really tough and, uh, I had, you know, it was, it was about a year. Dealing with, I was on this like line where I decided, okay, I'm gonna give it a few more months, I'm gonna see how it goes. And ended up being close to a year, uh, a year later where I was like, okay, nothing's happening. Like I did a few shows.

I was on a big, uh, I was on days of our lives for a little bit, and then nothing happened after that. My agent dropped me, my manager dropped me. Everything just started to collapse in front of me, and I just thought, Well, that was the, you know, a year ago I was thinking this, and then it happened. So [00:08:00] I just have to, I put my hands up and I just trust, trust what's gonna happen next.

And, uh, here, here I am, I'm talking to you today. So I, I feel like I'm in a, I'm in a good, I'm in a good position.

Roni: Yeah. So do you feel, what? What do you feel like was your. Uh, like leveling up process from being like a, I cook meals for my family and my friends to being like, I'm a chef who like knows things that I can teach to other people.

Max: I think there was a moment where I was getting, you know, calls and emails to. Come to the other side of the world like Europe. I was being asked to go to Norway, England, the uk, and Amsterdam, all like in one month. And it was like eight months, maybe less than eight months, into doing social media where I was asked to come to these countries, host supper clubs, because I was, that's what I was doing in the beginning stages.

I was hosting supper clubs out of my flat, out of my apartment. I had friends in Los [00:09:00] Angeles, so I was going from New York, flying over to Los Angeles, hosting parties there, coming back to New York doing the same thing. And I kept it small and intimate and people, you know, friends of mine and would share it on their stories and their Instagram.

So, you know, small. You know, small traction there. But then, uh, something happened, I think, where it started to go outside the United States and then Europe saw what I was doing, and then I was being invited to universities and colleges and businesses and events and festivals to demonstrate what I do and how I cook and how I can help people use the food they already have.

The thing is like, I'm not recreating the wheel. This is stuff that we all can do, and this, this is information that is at our fingertips, our grandparents, and maybe our parents, and maybe we also do it. You know, the person who's listening today probably already does this at home already. So for me it was like, I'm, I'm doing something I love to do and I'm getting to see the world [00:10:00] and share this information with people.

So I'm, I'm really fortunate,

Roni: Wow, that is so fantastic. Uh, what, like a milestone to get to as well, to have people wanna take you abroad to go eat your food. 

Max: Yeah, it's, it's something, you know, something I love to do and I'm, I'm, I'm really grateful.

Roni: Cool. So then let's talk about the cookbook a little bit. I know you have a pretty cool story about the origin of the cookbook, so why didn't you share that?

Max: Yeah. The cookbook is called, you Can Cook this. Because I know you can. So it, it's kind of like play on words. Um, I, I asked my audience for about a year, which foods they're throwing away the most, and after having tens of thousands of responses over this year period, this 12 month period, I collected all the, the answers that they, that people were saying.

I wasn't shocked by anything. All the food, like every single ingredient showed up on this, on this, on these replies. And over that time, I, I decided, [00:11:00] I think I can, I should write a cookbook based on all these replies, all these answers. Probably like halfway through of, in the six, you know, in the six month period, I thought, oh, there's a cookbook here.

I'm gonna create a cookbook that shows. Recipes that use up these ingredients that people are throwing away. So it's like before you get to the point where you're gonna throw away this food, here's what you can do with those potatoes, here's what you can do with bread, here's what you can do with the bagged, salad, berries, bananas, yogurt, whatever.

And um, that really resonate with people. There's 135 recipes in the book. There's roughly 15 hero ingredients. I call them hero ingredients. Kind of give them a platform, let them shine a little bit, shine the light on these ingredients that people are throwing away to help people save some time, some money, and some food.

Roni: Can you name a few of those? Like what are some of the one. Came up as the most common.

Max: The most common potatoes, it was, uh, you know, I. Thought. Okay, you know what, that makes [00:12:00] sense. Maybe somebody might need one or two potatoes for the night, but sometimes maybe they're buying a whole bag of potatoes and there's, uh, you know, 10 or 12 in a, in a bag, you know, depending on the size, of course.

So potatoes were the top one. They were the number one. Then it came, then it was bread, bag, salad, banana. And then I think it was milk or yogurt. People were throwing away, throwing away milk and yogurt. Um, and it's really shocking because all these, all these ingredients can, can, can be saved, I think comes down to, you know, the storage, how people store food can extend the shelf life of these ingredients.

So, you know, each, each ingredient has roughly five to eight recipes per ingredient. So there's never really. Uh, you know, the, you should always have a, an, a recipe in the back of your hand or, or in the book where you can, you can use, you can use those ingredients to make a recipe.

Roni: So I have a copy of the [00:13:00] book and it's awesome. And I actually was wondering what you think is, are some of the reasons, like you gave a couple right there, but like, what are some of the reasons, and maybe your audience has told you this, of like, why do they have this food that's like not getting used?

Max: Yeah, I think it comes down to, and I, and I asked my audiences, what, well, why, why are we throwing away this food? Why do you, why do you think it is? And it resonated with my research, you know, having done my bit to, before I can point my finger at anyone else, I had to look at myself obviously, to go, okay, what am I throwing away too?

And it came down to storage, how people store food. Cuz people are storing it improperly. People are putting food with other food sitting together and something happens where like chemical, uh, it's a chemical reaction with like the, the chemical gas in this food. Um, if we had some like special light, um, to, to, to you.

Shine on our food, [00:14:00] we would, we would see chemicals being lifted into the air. Um, so like bananas for instance. Love being kept by themselves. Don't put your bananas with other ingredients. Same thing with potatoes. We wanna keep your potatoes away from everything else. They, they like to be kept cold. Think about where a potato comes from.

It comes from a ground, comes from the ground underneath the soil and it's cold. So keep it cold, keep it dark, and um, you want it well ventilated too. So that will help keeping it cold. Um, so people I think are just, we're improperly storing our food. And the other thing too, on top of that is that we're overbuying.

We're buying way too much food. We're throwing away hair, you know, in America, I'm currently, I'm in the UK. But in America, and it's the same thing. Same thing here, and same thing where you are, we're just wasting too much food. Roughly a third of the food we bring into our homes is being thrown away. That's roughly 15 to $1,800 of food every single year.

So my [00:15:00] question for everyone who's listening in, what would you do if 15 or $1,800 knew that you can save? Okay. I could save a little bit of food. I could do that. I can store my food properly. I could buy a little bit less cuz I'm, I'm ending up throwing a third of that food away over, over the year, over the year.

So what would you do? It's a rhetorical question. you, you answer it at your own time unless you want to answer it. Roni.

Roni: Uh, I don't, well, I mean, I told you this before we started recording the, um, I'm going to Europe next month, and so I'd probably spend a little extra money on a trip, I think.

Max: First class.

Roni: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Make the long flight a little more comfortable. I mean, for, for us, so we're a meal planning company and so we talk actually about food waste quite a bit.

You know, like one of the big things that help can help alleviate food waste is just having a plan for, you know, the food that you're gonna buy. So we're really big proponents of wasting less food and using meal planning as a tool to waste less. And you [00:16:00] even mentioned it in your book, like before you go to the grocery store, looking in your fridge, in your cupboards and seeing what do I already have?

Like what don't I need to buy? Uh, we're always encouraging our customers to do that. Take a second look at their grocery list and say, okay, I don't actually need, you know, any of these spices cuz I already have a full spice cupboard or I don't need green beans, cuz we already have those. So I think it's really important, and I think it's, uh, I, I think probably the more that food prices increase too, the more that people are aware of this.

So actually, really think your book's coming out at a pretty opportune time for that.

Max: Ugh. Thank you. Yeah, I'm, it's, it's gonna help people. It's gonna help people save time, money. It's gonna help people save some food waste. The reason we buy food is what? To just throw it away. No, it's, we're, we're buying food to, to eat it. To enjoy food is meant to be, you know, it gives us fuel. Yes. But it's also a moment.

If you have another person in your [00:17:00] life, you have family, you have children, a partner, we share food with other people. It's, it's a moment to like, reflect, sit down and enjoy food. And I think that my, my recipes embody that. And so, You know, when it comes to, and like you said, those are great tips of like, uh, you know, plan your meals out in advance.

I think the first thing we can all do is just cook the food we have before we even go to this shop, before we ever go to the store and buy more food. So, you know, cook the food you already have, make a list, stick to that list. I like sometimes making an inventory list of what I have and then, you know, if I.

You know, extras of something. I know that. Okay, cool. That's on my list. I keep that on my fridge and when that's done I can cross it out and I know that, okay, I can go back to that cuz then I'm not always like going through everything all over again, you know? Cause I keep things like stored away and, you know, spices and I have tons of spices.

So I would just like keep things stored away and I'm like, [00:18:00] okay, cool. I don't need to go out and buy more salt. I have some salt. It's in the, in the, uh, the pantry hidden. So, yeah, it's a little bit of preparation will go a long way.

Roni: Couldn't agree more. Do, do you have, um, like certain staples, kinds of foods that you always keep on hand that kind of help some of these recipes come together a little bit 

Max: Ooh, great question. Ah, you know what I, it changes so often in my kitchen cuz I'm always trying new things. And, but I always have some sort of frozen bagged, um, vegetable. So it might be frozen peas this week. It might be frozen cauliflower next week. It might be just a mixed veg, frozen item.

It's great. Just it's there. I don't have to worry about it. And I know I can get to it in, you know, in time and it's not gonna go off. It's frozen, it's fine. So something frozen, [00:19:00] I like having some sort of le um, legume, some sort of bean, um, lentils. Something in a can or in a jar. So that can add that to a stew, a curry, a stir fry.

Just added a little bit more bulk to the dish and it adds a little bit more protein as well. Maybe the last thing too is some sort of sauce or paste. So like tomato paste is great, it can thicken up sauces. You know, it's great in tomato sauce, obviously. But also, One of the cook, one of the recipes in my book, I have a crispy smashed potato where the, the potatoes are par boiled.

You take them out, you smash them with, an empty jar, and then you, uh, spread this olive oil, tomato paste, lemony zest sauce on top, and then the. The tomato, the richness, and the, this intense full flavor of the tomato paste when it's spread on that and it gets into the oven and it bakes, it does some sort of like sweetness [00:20:00] caramelizing on the outside.

And it's just, like I said, intense, intense flavors. Just like deep, deep flavors. Very umami. Um, and yeah, so I like having some sort of sauce on hand that can just be added to anything that kind of helps, helps the dish go a long.

Roni: That's, that recipe itself sounds delicious. Yeah, I, I think that, uh, from other people that I've talked to on the podcast, um, you know, a lot of the times it's having those. Little ingredients that do kind of add that umami flavor, that that feels like the thing that really levels up the recipe.

So whether it's like some soy sauce or something, you know, I know that you're a plant-based person, but even like anchovy paste or something, a lot of people like, 

Max: I think, um, I always try to keep that, this idea, this principle, those the fat, salt, acid, heat and umami. I'm adding that in there as well of like, okay, can I add a little bit of lemon zest for acidity? Can I add [00:21:00] some salt? Can I add some, uh, heat to this dish? Can I add some olive oil to finish off, like thinking of the dish in full?

So like my wife will cook, bless her heart because, um, She tries. She tries, she tries to cook. So when she does, I sometimes she's like, just try it first before you add anything else to it. Um, so I do that and then I go in. I'm like, I think you're missing this and missing that. And I'm trying to be helpful.

I'm trying to be helpful.

Roni: That's probably a big task for her to try to have to, um, to please you. I'm guessing that you're mostly the cook in the house, right.

Max: I, you know what? It's actually, I'm trying to please her. I'm trying to please her all the time. And, um, I give her a big, big, you know, shout out in the book because without having her in my life, she's a big, she's a big foodie and she loves food and, uh, she's been very, very, very critical. She, you know, I've had nearly two years to work on this book, so every recipe [00:22:00] I tested and retested and retested and developed in all, every step of the way she's been so, critical.

Every recipe I made, she's like, this sucks. This is okay. This could be better. What can you do? And I'm like, God damn it. I'm like, leave me alone. And yeah. But it's, it's actually really great because, um, it, I think it shows I'm really, really excited about this book and people are gonna be really, really lucky when they start cooking from it.

Roni: I agree. Oh, why don't you give us a little overview of like the different sections that are in the book so that people have an idea of what's in it.

Max: Yeah. So, Most cookbooks have like a breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert section. My book doesn't have that. So let's say the principle here is using up the food you already have and those going back to those hero ingredients. So let's say Roni, you have, uh, potatoes or you have bread, or you have beans, or [00:23:00] you maybe you have some tofu this week and you want to use those ingredient.

But you don't know what to do with it. So each chapter is designed by, those ingredients. So there's like root vegetables, so carrots beet parsnip, carrot, uh, carrots, potatoes, those sort of, uh, root vegetables. Then you have grains and legumes, so you can flip to those chapters really easily. And in the front of, it's actually in the front of the book where you see what pages they're on instead of going to the back of the book and trying to find.

Where, where's, okay, mushrooms on page five, 300 and 450, whatever it might be. Like you're, you know, you put your fingers into the book and you're just trying to flip through everything. Well, now it's all condensed into a few, few pages, so you can just flip through each page. And think, okay, am I gonna have the mushroom ravioli tonight?

Am I gonna have the mushroom pat Thai? Am I gonna have the mushroom uh, lasagna? And so you just like figure out which [00:24:00] dishes you're gonna have tonight based in those few pages. So it gives people more of an incentive to cook the food you already have. Hence, you can cook this

Roni: That's great. And then you do still have an index in the back, right? For um, a little more, well, you have like an occasion index too, which 

is really fun. So I thought that was cool.

Max: yeah, thank you. I want, actually, I went to my publishers and I said, can I add one more section to the book? They're like, sh what is it? It, it has to be like, it has to be one page. And I was like, okay, cool. Um, I just, there are, there are dishes in this book that I go to and make on a regular basis.

I just repeat them. They're part of my. Repertoire. I do. I cook these dishes like on repeat. So I'd love if people can cook along with me because I'd like to know maybe somebody's cooking the same dish I'm cooking tonight. You know? And sometimes I'll might share that on my stories. Like, Hey, I'm cooking from page [00:25:00] 46 tonight I'm gonna be doing this recipe.

So, I have some, it, it should have been, instead of occasional index, it should have been like Max's go-tos. Um, because those are my go-tos. Um, not to say like the rest of the book is not delicious. It is, but these, these are dishes that I can kind of do with my eyes shut and cook and have a good time, and they're delicious every single.

Roni: I, I was gonna ask you if you, if you often use recipes very much yourself or if you just mostly use recipes when you're like creating something and otherwise, do you just kind of throw some ingredients together?

Max: that's a great question. I like, Being a little bit freestyle and like, okay, I have to check in with myself and see how I'm feeling for the night and or the day. Do I want to cook a recipe from a book or do I just want to freestyle? And sometimes I tend to freestyle. And then there's occasional where I'm like, I'm actually in the mood [00:26:00] to cook a recipe from a book, and it might be my book, it might be someone else's book, but I like that.

I like having that comfort of like, okay, and then this step. And now this step. Okay, great. And now that step, this is nice. Okay. I get it. And then I'll walk away from a recipe that I've made or somebody else has made and think, okay, I'm very competitive. How am I gonna do this better next time?

Roni: Uh, I was gonna say, one of the things that I really like about your book is, I think for most of the recipes, you have a little recommendation at the bottom of the recipe that says, you know, in this recipe you can use the kale stems in this other recipe. So like you give people alternate recipes to continue to maximize, um, the food that they're using, which I think is really great.

And. It's often a question that we get a lot where somebody says, you know, I had this one recipe that used yogurt, but that's the only thing that I'm gonna use yogurt for this week. Like, what the heck else am I going to use it for? So that's, it's really helpful that you give those suggestions [00:27:00] too.

Max: a hundred percent. Yeah. I don't want people, that's the one thing, this book is basically. Cooking the food you already have at home. You don't ever need to leave the house to go and buy more food. The most cookbooks tell you. And you know, no, no, you know, no shade to, to, um, to those cookbooks. But they're telling you to go out and buy more food.

And I thought, let's do the opposite. Let's cook the food we already have. Why do we need to go out and buy more? Or why do we have, why do I have to go out and buy this spice that I'm gonna use once and now? I don't know what else to do with it. And I think that sometimes comes out. We we're, we're creatures of habit.

So, um, we can, we will, we'll do the same thing. We don't like going outside of what we're, uh, our normal kind of daily routine, so, I think it might be challenging for somebody to go, okay, I'm gonna use saffron in this dish, that's, this is what the recipe says, and now I gotta figure out what else to do with saffron.

Like, Saffron's a great ingredient, but it can also be very [00:28:00] spendy and pricey and, you know, I don't know. You know, I think it could be a little bit daunting and challenging for most, so most of the recipes, if not all of them, will. Will kind of rotate the same ingredients throughout. And I made that an as an effort because I, I want people to have the same sort of cupboard ingredients that I do, and there's no like fancy spices that you need to go out and and get.

I think someone said to me, what's like the most fanciest ingredient in the book? And I think I said, I th I said it could be tofu. Tofu might be like the most, like fancy, like, where can I get tofu? I think some people are like, I can't, I don't know where to buy tofu. I'm like, okay. Or Tempe, Tempe might be like the one ingredient that people need to go out and get.

But they don't, they might not know where to look. 

Roni: Where do people look for that if they don't know about where to get tofu or Tempe?

Max: in the supermarket, obviously, Where can people find [00:29:00] tofu and Tempe? Um, if it's not in like your, your, you know, high street, you know, your big brand supermarket stores, which is usually in, they usually have like a plant-based section in the supermarkets now where there's like plant-based cheese plant, ba, plant-based, uh, yogurts, and that sort of section.

Or you can go to like an Asian supermarket where they'll have, you know, tofu or Tempe.

Roni: Uh, so another thing that you talk about in, I think it's towards the beginning of the book, is food labels and like how the food labels at the grocery store can be a little bit, um, misleading and not food labels as in like it says natural and organic, but food labels as in like best Buy and sell buy.

So can you explain the difference between those?

Max: a hundred percent. the used by best before sell by all of the, all of this jargon can be quite mis not misleading, but can be con confusing on the, the shopper sell buy. Let's start with sell, buy, sell buy is for the su, the supermarket.

Sell. Buy is for the [00:30:00] store. Sell by, sell This ingredient by this. It's telling them, Hey, if it's after this date, then you need to, I, I've seen sell buys after the a after that date, and they usually mark it down. It's up for the, the consumer, I guess, to kind of make a judgment. They usually have a, you know, a day after, um, sometimes on the day they, you know, later in the evening, you know, five o'clock, the store's gonna be closing in a few hours.

They might mark the prices down so people can get those products off the shelf. Um, best before. Best before is, hey, this product is great up to this day, and it can also be good afterwards, but it's again, in your, it's your judgment. On what you decide to do with this ingredient. So it's like, again, giving a little bit more flexibility to the shopper to, to use this ingredient.

It's, it's good up to this day. [00:31:00] It's best before this day, and it could be good after this day, but it's up to you

Roni: We're not gonna guarantee that it's gonna be good after the 20th.

Max: We can't, we, we can't guarantee that. Sorry. Yeah. And then there's used. Which I think is probably the most common one around that I see and used by is, Hey, use this ingredient by this day and after this day, we don't, we don't know what's gonna happen, like.

It's almost tempt. It's like the bigger brother of like best before, best before is like the second child. And, uh, used by is like the firstborn. It's like, you better use me up. Or, you know, so u use it by this day and then after that day, hey, we don't know what's gonna happen. So it can be all very, very, very confusing.

Roni: Do you have your own standard, I guess, for what, like if it's a Best Buy date, do you, are you like, as long as it's not like moldy, I think I'm good. Or, uh, like what's your, take on that.[00:32:00] 

Max: You know what these, these labels. Like a new invention. Our ancestors were not using used by in the 18 hundreds best before. They're like, oh, let's see what the used by date is here. So I think it's really kind of, Use your co. It's common sense. Use your eyes, use the, use your nose, the smell, use your, if you have to taste something, taste it, but don't take a big wig of something.

So I con, I'm constantly kind of just looking and inspecting, smelling it. I might do a little taste test. My wife always like, is the oat milk, is it okay to. Yeah, it's fine. You can, yeah, go enjoy your, go, enjoy your oatmeal, flat, white. So yeah, I think it's, it's just common sense, but, take that with a pinch of salt too, because you don't want to be, I've, I've fallen ill from eating things that were, not good.

So it's not the, it's not the, the message I'm trying to promote, but I [00:33:00] think it comes back to just. Planning and storing your food properly, and you know, again, using the food you already have first, and again, making that plan, plan out your meals and get excited about cooking the food you already have.

Roni: And so then if you have foods that. Happened to go bad or, you know, there's always, you know, the end of an onion or something that's like, you're not actually, you don't actually eat that part. Um, what do you do with your extra food scraps? Do you compost? Do you make stocks out of 'em? What's your normal thing?

Max: Yeah. It, it all depends on the. The ingredient and what the ingredient is and where it is in the stage of its life. If it's moldy, uh, I tend not to use anything that has mold on it, and I don't advise anyone to do that. So, I will get rid of it and by getting rid of it, I put it in the compost and, I will compost it either in my, so I have a compost patch in my, in my garden, that I [00:34:00] just, I literally just put it in a pile.

Other kind of scraps and leaves and things that I have like raked up from the yard and kind of toss and turn that and may spread that, that, uh, that soil once it's broken down, scattered around the garden. And I also have a compost bin, like collection service. So they used that food waste for biogas.

I live in a very, very green community, uh, in the countryside, in, in the, in, uh, the uk. So they're very, I'm very conscious and I'm very, very lucky to be in a, in a space like that. I like to make my own veg stock. I think it's a great way of using up the food you already have. So your onion scraps, your garlic scraps.

I will have a bowl or some sort of, you know, a quart container by, by my cutting board, and I just chuck things in there, close the lid, pop it in the freezer, and when it becomes full, I can throw it into a pan, throw some water, pinch of salt, a bay leaf, some pepper, and then simmer away for 20, 30 minutes.

And then I have veg stock that I can use [00:35:00] and I can use that in a risotto. I can use that in a soup sometimes. Pasta with the leftover, sock. I have it just intense flavors for your pasta cuz that'll absorb that, uh, that flavor. You can do all sorts of things with your scraps nowadays. I've seen people making, Onion powder from their, from their onion peels where they're just bake it on a low heat in the oven.

And, uh, they grind it up and they can use those, those onion, onion, peelings as onion powder now. So it's just a great way of using up what you have. And I always see food as, when we, when we bring food into our own home, I see it as, okay, there's an opportunity to use everything here. Everything has a purpose, everything has a use instead.

Okay, I'm just gonna use the floret for this broccoli and I'm gonna chuck everything else away. Well, what can I do with the broccoli stem? I can use that in something. The cauliflower leaves the, again, the onion and the garlic peelings. What can I do here? It may not be always, uh, nutrition for us. It might not be fuel or [00:36:00] food for us to consume, but it can be.

For something else. And we currently live in this linear economy where we just buy or we, we grow food, take from the land, we bring it to our homes, we might throw it away, and then when we do throw it away, it ends up in landfill. And that's where it, that's where it ends, where we can go into this circular economy.

And food can go back into this cycle where we do, you know, we grow the food, we take it, we use it, we throw it back into the cycle like composting. So then in that, those nu, those nutrients can feed our soil, which can then feed our plants, which then can feed us.

Roni: Mm. Yeah, I really love that. Do you garden? Do you garden much yourself?

Max: I have a green thumb. Yeah, I do. I love it.

Roni: That's great. Is the gardening good in England?

Max: Uh, yeah. Yeah, the biodiversity here is lacking. They've, I don't, I don't, it's, it's so strange. Um, [00:37:00] my wife and I visited, I'm from Connecticut and we went for a walk and we were in some nature reserve, and I was so scared to walk in the Nature Reserve. She's like, what's wrong? I was like, there might.

Beers. There's like lion cats. There's like, there's all sorts of like wild creatures there that, that, you know, I haven't been around America for, you know, I've moved to the uk. I haven't been back, so I was here in the uk. Our biggest mammal is, uh, on land is a deer. So I'm like, oh, that's fine. A deer great.

Fine. I think like the second one is a fox and the foxes here are so calm and like. Uh, tame. Some of them, they're in London. They just walk the streets here in London. They're just, they're like, what's up? And you like, give them a high five and, oh, okay, we'll see you later. Have a good day. You know what I mean?

Um, so when I, the biodiversity is lacking here, so, uh, yeah. The gardening is, is okay.

Roni: [00:38:00] Yeah, I wasn't sure. With it being a little more cloudy there than, well, at least where I'm at, we get lots of sunshine for growing a 

Max: that's I I, I always say that the, you know, the grass is always greener and that's, you know, part of why I moved to the uk, but it's particularly, uh, greener because it rains so much.

Roni: yeah.

Uh, why don't you tell everyone where they can get your book, where they can follow you online, all that good stuff.

Max: Yeah. Everyone go and check me out on social media, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Max La Manna is my handle. Uh, and. If you're interested and you wanna get the book, I'm sure it'll be in the show notes, but the link is in my bio as they say. And if you can't get it online and you don't wanna support businesses online and you're worried about that, then go to your local bookstore and just request a copy from your local bookstore.

They might have it in stock or they'll order one for you.

Roni: Excellent. Okay. And then I do like to end the podcast talking about recipes. I know we've already talked a lot about food, but what's a [00:39:00] recipe, whether from your book or not, um, that you've eaten recently that you just wanna talk about?

Max: One dish that is on my mind, it's my stems and herbs, pesto pasta. And the reason why w. When we move, because we're moving into spring and I like having fresh pasta dishes that feel just fresh. And that having those fresh herbs and, and stems and leafy greens, making a pesto, and bag salad is one of their most wasted ingredients.

And so I think we're gonna see more leafy greens. Uh, in season and at the supermarkets. So I really enjoy the, the, my, my stems and herbs Pesa pasta. It's using up, the broccoli stalk and using up stems from herbs that we, that we throw away, and it's just a vibrant, lovely green pasta dish.

Roni: That sounds great. Well, thanks so much for taking the time and joining me on the podcast today.

Max: [00:40:00] Thanks, Roni.

Roni: We hope you enjoyed this episode. And if you did, please share it with someone and subscribe to our podcast. Wherever you listen to your podcasts.