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Chefs Roundtable, Part 3 - Staff Engagement Strategies

By Leanpath  //  November 8, 2019

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Staff engagement in food waste prevention pays big dividends. When staff are engaged in tracking food waste, a kitchen gets more complete data, which provides greater insight into what a kitchen is wasting and why. But staff engagement in a mission-driven effort like food waste prevention also leads to better retention and job satisfaction.

In a webinar hosted by Leanpath Executive Chef Robb White, Sodexo chefs from the healthcare, corporate dining and universities segments shared their best practices in reducing food waste through inventory and menu management and staff engagement. You can watch the full webinar here, review our summary of the discussions around inventory and menus here and here, and keep reading for a summary of the discussion on staff engagement.

When it comes to reducing food waste,” Chef Robb explained, “a chef cannot do it alone.  There must be staff engagement and a positive culture in place to be most effective.”  

Sodexo West Coast Area Executive Chef Ken Krenzler explained that staff are already much more aware of food waste than they used to be. “Food waste is already on the kitchen staffs’ minds,” he said. “They are bringing it up before I do.”

Still, he emphasized, it’s important to set the right tone: “To get them engaged it’s important that they know this is a positive thing. They will not get in trouble for tracking food waste. Just the opposite. They’ll get praise for it. The other thing is just train them. They usually think they won’t have time to track food waste, but Leanpath has made it so easy and fast. So once they use it, they realize it doesn’t take much time to have a big impact.”

Executive Chef Brandon Williams, from Sodexo’s universities segment, reiterated the importance of the carrot-versus-the-stick mentality. He also gets the staff engaged by emphasizing the dollar value of food being wasted.

“Everybody understands the value of a dollar,” he said. “So when we have our staff huddles, we give the waste data, and we say, 'Hey our waste went up 12% last week, imagine what it would be like if your paycheck this week was 12% less than it was the week before.'”

Sodexo Executive Chef Laurance Morrison agreed with the importance of explaining the “why” behind preventing food waste as a way to get staff engaged: explain the impact of food waste on your margins, the impact of food waste in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and wasted water to grow food that just gets wasted. 

“It can turn the work into a mission,” he said.

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Topics: Kitchen Culture, Food Waste Strategies