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LeanPath’s Two Fulltime Food Waste Fighting Chefs Talk Waste Prevention

By Robb White, CEC CCA AAC; Executive Chef & Food Waste Prevention Catalyst  //  May 1, 2018

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I couldn’t be happier to make this announcement: LeanPath has hired the world’s SECOND fulltime Food Waste Fighting Chef, Sam Evangelista. Yours truly was the first, something I’ll always be proud of. And trust me, with the size of the food waste problem, there’s room for two!

When it comes to preventing food waste and addressing the global environmental crisis it feeds, chefs and their kitchen staffs are the true change agents. And LeanPath recognizes that nobody talks to a chef the way another chef can. Nobody understands a kitchen the way another foodservice professional does. We’ve hired Sam to be out in the field, in those kitchens, talking chef to chef to help them understand their food waste and how to prevent it.

Sam comes to LeanPath with 20 years in the industry. He started in country club banquets, worked in resorts, corporate catering, college dining, restaurants and senior healthcare. He’s run restaurants and been a personal chef. He’s done it all.

In the spirit of chef-to-chef conversations, Sam and I sat down to talk food waste and the best ways to prevent it.

RW: Welcome Sam. It’s great to have you onboard. You’ve been working in kitchens for a long time. What kind of food waste did you see most often?

SE:  I saw so many problems with knife skills. I was executive chef with a national culinary management company. I watched the culinary team trimming chicken and fruit and the amount of waste created from bad knife skills had me speechless. I’ve seen people cutting eggplants and leaving two inches on each end. If you’re a good chef, you are cutting exactly the amount you need to discard.

RW: Right? I think that’s one of the most overlooked things. We all look for big fixes, but really it’s the little things. I think as a chef we have the responsibility to teach our staff knife skills.

SE: Yes. Ongoing training. Not just one and done.

RW: I think a lot of chefs don’t do that because they assume everybody has skills. Yeah, they can fabricate a melon, but can they do it correctly?

SE: Yes. So knife skills and cross utilizing product. You should be able to cross utilize everything on your menu. If you’ve got a soup everyday, which you should, then you can cross utilize your menu.

RW: What do you see as the biggest obstacle to implementing changes in the kitchen to address food waste? 

SE: One of the hardest things is for chefs to recognize there’s a problem. They might run a great kitchen in a lot of ways but still have a food waste problem because they haven’t been tracking it. You just can’t see the problem clearly enough if you’re not tracking. 

RW: What are you looking forward to the most with this new gig?

SE: I can’t wait to get out into the kitchens. That’s what I love and where I’m most comfortable. I love talking to chefs. I’m going to look at their workflow, read the kitchen in a way only a fellow chef can. Make those connections and partner with chefs. I’m not here to tell them how to do their job, but to help them achieve their goals.

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