The Food Life

Graduate Hospital Opts to Chop, Not Toss

June 28, 2017
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Deviled eggs
Deviled eggs with tuna topped with golden raisins and crushed croutons. Photo: SARA SILVERMAN

A Korean peach drink, mung beans and golden raisins were the star ingredients in a recent cooking competition held in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood. The friendly competition was modeled after the Food Network game show “Chopped.” What brought these four contestants, three judges and twelve mystery ingredients together? They were all part of the neighborhood’s “Buy Nothing” group—a Facebook-based community with the mission of promoting gift-giving economies within a defined geographic area. Buy Nothing groups exist all over the city, the country, and the planet, but not all are as food-obsessed as this one.

Ingredients for the contest, the club’s second, were sourced from the back corners of kitchen cabinets and freezers around the neighborhood and harvested by the competition’s organizer, Drew Silverman.

“People are always giving away food that they don’t want, don’t like or can’t use,” Silverman says. “So I had the idea to turn those extra food items into a game show that would highlight some of the talented cooks in our Buy Nothing community, while giving my wife and me a chance to meet more neighbors and make new friends.”

After receiving a bag of ingredients they were required to use in their dishes, contestants had one hour to prepare an appetizer, entrée and dessert. The most challenging combination of ingredients was for the dessert course: hot-chocolate mix, Passover cookies, Persian limes and edamame. (The thousandplus neighbors following the live competition online empathized in the comments section.)

Luanh D’Mello emerged as the champion, winning a donated gift certificate to Brauhaus Schmitz and local bragging rights.

“I’m very grateful to be part of a competition based on the generosity and kindness of our neighbors,” D’Mello says.

To join your neighborhood Buy Nothing group, visit

—Karen Chernick

Cookies topped with hot chocolate sauce, crushed limes and edamame
Josep Valls, Kyle Morgan, John Palusci, and Luanh D’Mello
Photo 1: Cookies topped with hot chocolate sauce, crushed limes and edamame
Photo 2: Buy Nothing members Josep Valls, Kyle Morgan, John Palusci, and Luanh D’Mello
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