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Top Chef Portland's Sara Hauman shares her tips for a sustainable kitchen

The Carlton-based chef won both challenges on the show's first episode. She's sharing her tricks for a sustainable kitchen via Skype.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Sustainability is an important issue in the food world. Get your ingredients responsibly, with no waste. Top Chef Portland is airing right now Thursdays on Bravo, and a wine country chef is really kicking some butt as a contestant. Chef Sara Hauman is staying mum on the Top Chef Portland winner and how far she made it. Meanwhile, she's back at work and putting on a special, virtual cooking class this Earth Day, all about sustainability.

"Maybe I didn't realize how big of a deal Top Chef was," Hauman said with a laugh. "Then when I walked on set the first day, I was like, 'Oh man, there's so much money behind this, what am I doing?"

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That's why you'll love watching Sara and root for her. She's real, she's funny, she's humble, even while winning both of the first episode's cooking challenges.

"As you watch the episodes, you'll see my smile and you see me beaming because I am 100% having the time of my life," Hauman said, smiling via Zoom from her work kitchen in Oregon's wine country.

Credit: Michael Cary Photos
Top Chef contestant and Soter Vineyards Head Chef Sara Hauman. (Michael Cary Photography)

The San Diego native is the head chef at Soter Vineyards in Carlton. The show's effect is already being seen. Guests have booked reservations at Soter months in advance, and Hauman says she's going to need to hire another staffer to keep up the pace in the kitchen.

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You can virtually meet Chef Sara Thursday, April 22 at 6 p.m. for her Earth Day cooking class on Skype, all about a sustainable kitchen. It costs $10 and proceeds go to help The Wave Foundation, a non-profit that strengthens community health, local economies, and environmental sustainability. Here's the link to sign up and for more information. 

Credit: The Wave Foundation

She'll talk about using all parts of a fish, including tails, bones and guts. She'll explain how using small fish can help with biodiversity and small fishing boats. She'll also make her Spanish tortilla, or frittata recipe, aka a Fridge Cleanout Meal.

Here are some conservation tips from Hauman:

Fridge Cleanout Meal

"I have stems of herbs, or vegetables that don't look the most beautiful, or bits of cheese I haven't eaten up and throw them in with beaten eggs, a little cream, and it's a way to empty your fridge. You can make a delicious meal whether it be breakfast or dinner. And for me, it really helps me get ready for that next shopping round."

Kitchen rag vs. paper towel

"Go to a kitchen supply store and you can find kitchen rags or towels in packs. You can reuse them, all you have to do is wash them. I prefer them to paper towels because they're way more absorbent."

Beeswax wraps vs. plastic wrap  

"They're really easy to make, I made some myself here at Soter. You can also just buy them. They're reusable, they're really, really great to cut down on your Saran wrap usage." Here's a DIY tutorial on how to make them yourself.

Soapy water tub

"I just fill up a little tub or bowl with soapy water and make sure I'm soaping down all my dishes first and then I'll turn the water faucet back on and rinse everything. It's a super easy way to save water and not have it running the entire time."

Freeze food

"Don't be scared to freeze food. Even if it is a bunch of herb stems and you don't have time to puree them, just stick them in the freezer and get to them at a different time. It's easy to freeze portions of meals and then after a long day, you can just get out a portion and thaw it and heat it up."

Hauman includes a recipe and upcoming events in her newsletter. Sign up here.

VIDEO: Watch Sara make an easy stovetop and oven frittata that she demonstrated for us during our interview:

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