While food waste is seen by many as a problem, most are now seeing it as an opportunity, becoming torch-bearers for both efficiency and creativity in the kitchen, as well as helping the kitchen’s bottom line. And there are a host of clever ways to re-think how you use produce, from start to finish. Look at it as entering a circle via the kitchen door and then closing that circle behind it, using as much of it as you possibly can so none of it has to go back out as waste. You pay good money for fruit, veg and proteins so as much of it as possible should make its way across the pass, not into the bin, and in turn have a positive impact on your margins.
Start with the Seasons
If you are doing brunch, lunch and dinner menus, fragile summer berries go across all three services:
- Seasonally, as fresh berries
- Out of season,
- as a defrosted coulis on a bircher muesli for breakfast,
- fruit and nut bread with creme fraiche or cream cheese, topped with fresh berries, for a light brunch or lunch dish
- summer pudding to finish off a dinner menu
Beef or pork brisket in Asian masterstock can be revived in a pulled pork salad the next day, or on a crusty roll with Asian slaw. Every time you put pen to order sheet, think about what’s left in the cool room before you do.
Think like a farmer
One Chef’s tip is to approach food waste like you had to grow it yourself, as nothing will be expendable. Use seasonality as your key, so it is cheaper to buy when it is abundant, and when you have abundance, try to utilise it while you have it. While different preserving methods such as salting, smoking, curing and pickling can preserve the life of both proteins and fruit and vegetables, ingredients in a big Ball jar also look good on a display shelf behind the order counter – and you can also use it year round.
Adapt and adjust
Don’t let a “just in case” attitude dictate your ordering and your menu design, but also offer room to be flexible, as Chefs who can embrace or adapt to change are those who succeed. If a supplier has a box of something cheap, snap it up and create a Chef’s special.
Offload surplus food
One new app, Y Waste, is also helping minimise waste from local businesses by offloading surplus food at the end of a hospitality shift. From sandwiches and salads from the local cafe, to unsold pastries and freshly made pizzas, consumers are able to purchase the food at a discounted price, paying via smartphone, and picking it up from the venue at an allocated time. To read more go here.
Here are some other simple tips:
- Keep a daily inventory of what you use.
- Avoid unnecessary food spoilage: store and label properly.
- Portion control and plate size: smaller portions on smaller plates.
- Pre-portion menu item ingredients.
- Maximum usage: plan to utilise usable trim and byproducts.
- Invest in technology: using it to keep track of everything going on in the kitchen.
- Bin waste: encourage your team to check what waste is going into the bins. Is it plate waste/prep waste? How can this be reduced?
- Conduct a food waste audit using these tools
- Recycling: recycle waste by placing it into correct bins.
- Compost: avoid waste going to landfill, and use compost for your kitchen garden