The holidays can be tough on the planet. Road trips and flights to visit family. Christmas gifts shrouded in plastic. A lot of consumption and waste. As culinary professionals our focus this time of year is on guests and food. We are in the unique position on the front line to make the changes to combat the global food waste problem and be part of the solution. A lot of food gets wasted this time of year, so what can you do about it?
As Leanpath's full time Executive Chef, I've trained and coached hundreds of chefs and managers on preventing food waste in their operations. When you spend this much time with frontline foodservice workers, hearing their food waste successes and horror stories, valuable trends emerge. One of the most aggravating food loss reasons I hear about all the time is equipment failure. As chefs and managers, we trust our kitchen tools, sometimes too much. Here are a few questions to ask your staff to prevent food waste due to equipment failure.
When food is delivered to a kitchen’s backdoor, it has one cost: the food cost. Once it enters the kitchen, it starts getting saddled with labor costs. Unloading, storing, prepping, cooking, plating, serving, disposing. It’s a basic model that every chef and manager understands, but it’s important to keep it in mind when we talk about the impact food waste prevention has on labor.
Topics: Food Waste Musings
In my years coaching chefs on how to prevent food waste, again and again I see three food items being wasted when they should have been repurposed.
A lot of chefs just aren’t sure what to do with them.
The big three are vegetable trim (broccoli stems, cauliflower cores, carrot peels, onions skins, etc.), fruits (whole and trim), and starches (rice, beans, potatoes, grains). It’s probably not a coincidence that none of these are high-priced proteins, which can sometimes be the only focus of a kitchen’s food waste prevention effort. To prevent trim waste before it happens, consider a knife skills refresher course, and once you improve those skills, turn to repurposing.
Repurposing is key to cutting the financial cost of food waste - labor cost - and inventory loss caused by food waste. Here’s how to tackle the big three by putting them to use instead of putting them in the bin.
Topics: Food Waste Musings
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.