Chef Obsession: Pea Shells

Jeremy Fox makes use of vegetable scraps at Rustic Canyon

Forget nose-to-tail cooking: Jeremy Fox is more fascinated by seed-to-stalk.

Four months into his stint as head chef at Santa Monica's Rustic Canyon, Fox has reinvigorated a style of cooking he pioneered at Napa's now-closed Ubuntu: utilizing parts of the plant that most chefs discard. "At Ubuntu, I started doing it to save money," says Fox, "but now I do it to create different flavors and textures."

Take, for example, a haul of English peas picked from the market the other week. Half of the leftover pea shells are used to make a rich "split pea" soup ($13), flavored with bacon fat and served chilled. Add some pieces of torn bread, pickled carrots and shards of salmon confit, and baby, you got a stew going.

The other half of the shells are used to make a delicate pea consommé, which is poured tableside over a vibrant spring salad of double-shucked peas, white chocolate and crushed macadamia nuts ($16).

Dealing with the pods is labor-intensive. But in doing so, Fox ensures that he extracts the most from his highly prized produce. At Rustic Canyon, one chef's scraps are another chef's mise en place.