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Chef T's No Waste Salad with Kale Pesto Dressing

Graduate by 22, get married by 25, have children by 27, have an established career by 30, retire by 67 - the list goes on. Nowadays we are constantly pushing ourselves to meet absurd deadlines and it’s incredibly intimidating! Now imagine starting a new career at the age of 52… that takes intimidating to a whole new level. But fear and intimidation were no match for L.A. Kitchen’s Lead Cook, Theresa Farthing.

In Chef T’s life, the topics of food and hunger loomed in the corner of every street she lived on. Growing up she would remember watching television and seeing commercials about starving children in third world countries. It resonated with her, but it wasn’t until she saw the issue of childhood hunger in her own community that she decided to take action. She would see neighborhood kids that were deprived of food because their parents were on drugs or weren’t around. These same kids were left to find their own meals for the day and fend for themselves. Chef T refused to be another bystander watching from afar so she began feeding these kids.

“All my life I’ve always seen where somebody needed help and it would always revolve around food. So working here and actually using food to help somebody makes it feel like it’s something I’m meant to do”, said Chef T.

At the age of 29, Chef T considered going to culinary school to pursue her dream of becoming a chef, but realized that she didn’t have the budget for it so her culinary dream was put on pause. Her dream was eventually met with an even harsher opponent when she was 42 - jail time. She felt hopeless, as though she couldn’t move forward. She believed that her culinary dream was over… but she was wrong.

After getting out of jail, Chef T stayed at the Downtown Women’s Center. Out of fate, she saw a flier from L.A. Kitchen asking for people age 40 and over with a criminal record to enroll into their culinary program. She applied and was accepted into L.A. Kitchen’s very first class in 2014. At the age of 52, Chef T graduated from L.A. Kitchen as the Valedictorian of her class! Now she works as the L.A. Kitchen’s Lead Cook where she has the opportunity to give back to the Downtown Women’s Center by preparing no waste meals.

“If I never went through what I did then I would never be where I’m at now. It was a part of my journey.” - Chef T

ToBox had the opportunity to interview Chef T as she cooked up a No Waste Salad with a Kale Pesto Dressing.



  • Kale, Arugula, Russian Red Lettuce, Baby Green Kale, Romaine (but whatever is available works!)

  • Salt & Pepper to taste

  • Red and Orange Bell peppers (cut) - balances out the Kale with it’s sweetness

  • Dried Cranberries

  • Cauliflower

  • Garlic

  • Thyme

  • Thinly Sliced Carrots

  • One Whole Red Bell Pepper


  • Kale

  • Toasted Sunflower Seeds or Pumpkin Seeds

  • Lemon

  • Garlic

  • Olive Oil

  • Rice Wine Vinegar

What you’ll need:

  • Whisk

  • Tongs

  • Knife

  • Blender

  • Two spatulas

  • Cutting board



  1. Put Kale into the blender and blend. Pesto is normally made with Basil, but using Kale is less expensive and tastes great!

  2. Add sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds (toast before using), lemon juice, and garlic into the blender and blend.

  3. Pour in all the oil while blending

  4. Pour pesto into a bowl and whisk in a little rice wine vinegar (pass on the red vinegar because red changes the color of the pesto from that nice beautiful green)


  1. Mix carrots, lettuce, cranberries, sweet peppers. The cranberries add sweetness and soft texture. Sweet peppers add more sweet flavors.

  2. Cut the bell pepper! Right way to cut a pepper for less waste: Cut the head of the bell pepper first, then cut bottom off, cut a slit on one side of the pepper, and slide out the membrane with seeds (middle part) if it’s too long, cut in half, and julienne it (thin slices).

  3. Dice your julienned peppers then cut the bottom and slice. You can continue to cut around the stem to get more pepper!

                  BONUS: Plant the membrane to grow more peppers or use the stems as self made compost!

  1. Add Thyme into your salad for some extra freshness in your flavor! 3-4 sprigs (any herb that you prefer and is readily available works)

  2. Pour pesto over your salad and TOSS!

  3. Cut Cauliflower chopped down (mince) and pour over top of salad to give a cheese like appearance and is healthier for you!

  4. ENJOY!

Special thanks to the L.A Kitchen Team and Chef T <3

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