A California Chef Is Responding To The Historic Drought By Pre-Cleaning Dishes With Air Instead Of Water

California Drought Reveals Uneven Water Usage
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Though it’s hard to tell from the photo above, there’s an epic drought in California, and the state is imposing harsh cutbacks and beginning to levy fines. A few days ago, residents of Rancho Santa Fe griped to the Washington Post about the prospect of water rationing. Resident Steve Yuhas said that people “should not be forced to golf on brown courses” — a line he must’ve pulled from Barlett’s Collection of Movie Villain Quotes.

Fellow entitled person, Gay Butler, added, “What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?” Presumably, the journalist would have reminded her that she chose to live in a Mediterranean climate — but he was probably out of breath, because Butler gave her interview while riding on a show horse. For real.

Seriously Rancho Santa Fe? Seriously?
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Seriously Rancho Santa Fe? Seriously?

Since Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown called for a 25 percent statewide decrease of water use in April, Rancho Santa Fe actually upped their usage by 9 percent — to which The Desk responded with this burn fest.

Meanwhile, Chef Greg Daniels of the Haven Collective and others like him are going the proactive route. Inspired by John Cox of the Post Ranch Inn, Daniels installed an air-compressor for his restaurant in Orange (just an hour up the road from Rancho Santa Fe). Using this system, his team pre-cleans dishes with pressurized air rather than water, before putting them in the commercial dishwasher. The savings are immense — Cox estimated to the LA Times that he saves 1,000 gallons a day.

“I’ve seen a gallon of water go down the drain just to clean a single spatula,” Chef Daniels says. “It’s wasteful. Using air works better in many cases. When it doesn’t, my crew pre washes with a sponge.”

As for Rancho Santa Fe residents looking down on the lower class from their (literal) high horses, “They’re out of touch,” Chef Daniels says. “They think they should be able to do whatever they want and I don’t agree. We can only go so far with water — it’s a shared resource and it’s almost gone.”