I’ve spent the last 2 years on the road for Leanpath, visiting more than 120 kitchens to train culinary teams how to track and reduce food waste. I've met thousands of foodservice workers, and witnessed a LOT of food waste. Here are 12 questions I get asked all the time and how I respond to each one.
A recently released, UN-backed study discovered a 7:1 ROI for restaurant food waste initiatives and shatters the notion that the associated costs of food loss and waste can remain buried in operational budgets, accepted as the cost of doing business, or considered not worth the investment needed to achieve reductions.
One of the biggest sources of food waste is trim waste from fruits, vegetables and meats. Some trim waste is inevitable. For that, try to repurpose using my guide to repurpose commonly wasted foods. But some trim waste is created because of poor knife skills: a quarter of a bell pepper is left on top, meat comes off when fat is trimmed. Teaching proper knife skills is critical. Find out the chef on your team who is best with knives and have him or her give a tutorial. Short of that, we've collected some great knife skills videos to help out with teaching the basics.
Leanpath works in a lot of kitchens. Over 2,500 in more than 30 countries. Our food waste 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 often get asked, “Chef, how can I motivate my staff to track their food waste?” It’s a good question, and one that comes up often. My simple answer usually is “You can’t.” I am a firm believer that you can’t motivate, but you can inspire. Motivation vs. Inspiration is a well documented topic and one that often leads me back to heated debates I used to get into when I served as the Dean of Culinary.
Culinary leaders and chefs often fail to understand a simple fact of human nature: people are intrinsically motivated beings. My students enrolling into culinary school were ALREADY motivated. When I was a working chef, I realized my kitchen staff would come to work for two reasons: to earn money to support themselves and their family and to make a difference in the lives of who they cook for. Motivating others is an outside-in approach to leadership that is not sustainable over time because people don’t need motivation. They need inspiration. Inspiring people is an inside-out approach to leadership that is entirely self-sustaining, as people strive to reach their fullest potential, whether in be in their personal lives, or their workplace.
My move to Leanpath was one of inspiration as I saw the work that Leanpath was doing to reduce food waste. One of our core values is - We are passionate about solving food waste - and it reads:
“Food is a precious resource. We are here to make a lasting impact in our world. Reduction helps ensure food is available to hungry people, natural resources aren’t wasted, and we’re combating the critical issue of climate change.”
For me, this is inspirational. It’s visionary. It’s the “Why” we are doing what we do. It aligns with an end goal. Motivation, although useful, is also short sighted it looks for the feel-good moment to keep going.
So back to the original question, “how can I motivate my staff to track their food waste?” The answer is, you can’t, but you can INSPIRE them, and here are 5 ways to do that: