Three renowned chefs tell us how they manage waste to increase their profits and streamline their kitchens
This article was originally posted in the Lockhart Catering and Equipment website
If you’re running a restaurant, chances are you’ll have to deal with leftover food. As we have recognized food waste’s environmental effect, more and more chefs are finding creative ways to utilize food waste in a constructive, profitable and efficient ways. Here three top chefs tell us their tactics for reducing waste in their kitchen.
Repurpose Your Leftovers
Probably the smartest and most profitable way a restaurant can use waste is through repurposing food. The Marlow and Sons/Marlow and Daughter’s operations have perfected this concept by creating a full service cycle. The cuts of meat not utilized at their fine dining establishment are salvaged at their diner as charcuterie, sausage and broths. Chef Michael Solomon’s Rooster House was established using chicken parts from his other restaurant Federal Donuts to make soup bases that are the backbone of the Rooster House menu.
Sizzler International takes the same approach to waste by repurposing simple ingredients and turning them into culinary offerings. Spearheading by Chef Tamra Scroggins, Director of Food Culture at Sizzler, the excess meat trimmings, hours-old baked potatoes and veggies from the salad bar that they go through. These perfectly edible ingredients get a culinary makeover and are up-cycled for the brand’s Vegetable Beef Soup and Baked Potato Soup.
Give Your Compost to a Local Farm or Business
Restaurants, coffee shops and breweries produce a lot of waste; vegetable peels, animal bones, grains, and coffee grinds, but not all that waste has to be wasted. A productive way to complete the food cycle is to use the waste for compost or to provide it to businesses that repurpose it. The team at The Smoking Gun, barleymash and Spill the Beans in San Diego follow Executive Chef Kevin Templeton’s lead by collecting food scraps for the Olivewood Gardens, providing up to 800 pounds of compost a week. Even fish bones that would otherwise be discarded are used to create cat food. We don’t mess around here,” said Templeton. We might not be able to use all of the bones or parts of fish, but we work with our seafood company to freeze the would-be-waste and turn it into a nutrient-rich cat food. How cool is that?
Feed the Homeless
If you live in a large urban center, most likely there is a homeless or underserved population that you can give back to. Every city has a plethora of organizations created to help provide food for the homeless. Find an organization that you can team up with to provide good food that would otherwise be thrown out. Organizations such as Rescue Leftover Cuisine deal with all of the logistics behind the process and will coordinate pick up times at your convenience. Working with shelters can also be beneficial and if you do a little research, you can probably find a shelter with a program set up already.
Filter your Oil
If you are cooking with lots of oil at your restaurant, especially deep fryers, then you are bound to create an abundance of fats, grease and oil known as FOG. The buildup of FOG in your restaurant can lead to major problems with your plumbing and are detrimental to the environment. In order to run your restaurant sustainably, you’ll have to make sure that you are reducing the amount of FOG that you release into municipal wastewater stream.
You can certainly use grease traps and interceptors, but a more effective and successful way to do so is by using an oil filtration service. Oil filtration services, such as FiltaCool, extend the life of cooking oil, while turning waste cooking oil into other sources of fuel, such as biodiesel. Corporate Chef Daniel England of San Diego’s OMG Hospitality Group does exactly this, One of the biggest ways our restaurants have managed waste reduction is by using an oil filtration and management company. We send our oil to them to be filtered, which yields a longer lifespan for the oil to ensure that we get max use out of it, before we send it back to the company to be recycled. This also results in less oil buildup in drains, which can oftentimes clog sewage lines due to the build-up of fats, and then has to be collected there by grease traps. The recycled oil is then used to make different forms of fuel.
Reduce the Amount of Disposable Plastics
Disposable plastics is a serious waste contributor in the world and particulary in restaurants., In 2014 alone, more than 33 million tons of plastic, the vast majority of which was not recycled, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Due to this rising global issue, In the last few years there is a huge trend toward reducing disposable plastics, especially straws. The city of Miami has banned them completely and huge restaurants such as Starbucks, Shake Shack, and every Eataly have begun to discontinue use of disposable straws. Using recycled containers made from paper and cardboard, which are compostable, can also be one of many solutions to reducing waste. Of course, you can’t do it all, but if there are ways to mitigate waste, they should be considered.
Chef Tamra Scroggins | Sizzler
As director of food culture for Sizzler USA, Chef Tamra Scroggins is responsible for the successful development, testing and implementation of new menu items, products, food sourcing and nutritional development for Sizzler’s franchise system, which includes more than 131 restaurants in 10 U.S. states.
Chef Kevin Templeton | Barleymash, Smoking Gun and Spill the Beans
Born and raised in San Diego, Chef Templeton attended culinary school in Oregon before he returned to San Diego, gaining experience in restaurant such as Cove and Azul La Jolla. Today Chef Templeton runs the kitchens at barleymash, The Smoking Gun and Spill the Beans, where he has implemented a dynamic and successful sustainability program. Among his other accomplishments, Templeton was a guest on “Beat Bobby Flay.”
Chef Daniel England | OMG Hospitality Group
Corporate Chef Daniel England of San Diego’s OMG Hospitality Group is well-versed in waste reduction for the restaurant group, and as the overseer of kitchen operations for five restaurants around the city, he is fully vested in finding new and creative ways to reduce their footprint.