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15 Food Waste Questions to Ask Your Kitchen Right Now

By Robb White, CEC CCA AAC; Executive Chef & Food Waste Prevention Catalyst  //  March 27, 2018

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LeanPath works in a lot of kitchens. Over 1,200 in more than 20 countries. Our tracking and analytics help these teams understand where their food waste is coming from and why it’s happening. Once they understand that, I work with a lot of them to then figure out strategies to start preventing the waste from happening.

I’ve found a number of commonalities. When I’m working with a chef, here are the questions I tell him or her to bring to their team to help understand what their food waste prevention strategies should be, focused on five of the top waste reasons.

Loss Reason: Overproduction

Q: Are production sheets in place, utilized, followed and adhered to on a daily basis?

Q: Are there processes in place to repurpose any food prepared, blanched, cooked and cooled that is left from service?

Q: What adjustments are being made to account for a change in volume at the last minute?

Loss Reason: Trim Waste

Q: Are spots checks being done in the trim waste bin to look for usable product?

Q: Have cooks been given knife-skill demos or refresher classes to improve their fabrication techniques and food efficiency?

Q: Are all cooks responsible for fabricating all foods or are there certain, highly skilled cooks to deal with the high dollar items such as meat, fish, and shellfish? (Whoever is handling the expensive cuts needs to know what they’re doing.)

Loss Reason: Expired

Q: What is your process for utilizing opened and dated items?

Q: Is there a “to use” shelf or cart in the cooler?

Q: Do you designate one cook to be in charge of the “to use” cart in the cooler to make sure food is being used before it goes out of date?

Loss Reason: Equipment Failure

Q: Are there routine maintenance or PM programs in place in the kitchen to deal with the upkeep and cleaning of the cooling and freezing equipment?

Q: Is there a protocol in place for getting temporary cooling/freezing equipment in place or on site in case of an emergency?

Q: Are temperature logs in place and consistently used to monitor cooler and freezer temps and to look for indications of a cooler or freezer that needs maintenance?

Loss Reason: Quality

Q: Who in the kitchen is allowed to make the call on quality before food is thrown out?

Q: Is the Chef or Sous Chef informed when a product’s quality isn’t up to standards and has to be thrown out?

Q: Are there processes in place to check ALL received product not only for temp and order accuracy but for quality?

It's all about looking at the data and asking the right questions. When you ask the questions, and have the answer, set the processes in place that will change the result. Ask and you shall receive!

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Topics: Food Waste Musings, Food Waste Prevention Newsletter, commercial kitchen