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Chef’s advice: Top food waste tips from 2017 that can still help you this year

Posted by Liv Lemos / 18-Jan-2018

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Last year we’ve interviewed many wonderful chefs who gave us simple and easy tips on how to reduce food waste and increase kitchen profitability. We’ve collected the best food waste tips from 2017 to help you this year.

Last year we achieved great results. Together Winnow users saved the equivalent of £11.5 million, which is the same as saving 22 meals per minute, the equivalent of feeding over 31,500 people. It was all thanks to the incredible work of chefs and teams who help us on a daily basis, making a tangible change in food waste.  

We had the opportunity to interview many of these amazing professionals, who gave us valuable tips on how you can prevent food waste, have a more profitable kitchen and help the environment at the same time. We’ve put together the best tips from 2017 that will help you prevent food waste through 2018.  

  • “Re-work” and make the most of cooked ingredients  

In 2017, we had the pleasure to interview a female chef for the very first time. Anne-Cécile Degenne is passionate, talented, and one of the most prestigious chefs working in Southeast Asia at the moment. Originally from France, she has worked for culinary legends such as Jean-George Vongerichten, took part in Top Chef France Season 5 and opened several successful restaurants for Accor Hotels.

Anne-Cecile believes that before thinking of ways to reduce food waste, chefs need to identify what type of waste their kitchen is producing: “The best piece of advice I can give to chefs is to simply look into their bin. Before the waste is collected every day, chefs need to find some time to open their bins and understand what and how much is getting thrown away. That’s the only way they will be able to do something about it.”

The French chef also shared with us how the Winnow reports have influenced her team’s behaviour and taught them the importance of reusing ingredients:

“I can highlight the fact that we have learned about the importance of reusing cooked ingredients. If we have leftover bacon from the breakfast buffet, the chefs quickly think of ways to reuse it instead of throwing it away like they used to do. We often use cooked bacon in quiches or pies, and the result is delicious.”

  • Use everything, waste nothing 

Tom Hunt is a renowned chef and food waste activist. He is the author of The Natural Cook and founder of Poco restaurant, 2016’s Restaurant of the Year at the Food Made Good Awards. Tom’s aim is to reduce food waste by encouraging people to eat for pleasure and use produce in its entirety.

“Root to Fruit” eating is his mission: “I created Root to Fruit eating as a reaction to the global food waste scandal. It was my way of promoting sustainable dining to the broader public”  

Last year, Tom told us how chefs can cook with the entire vegetable to reduce food waste, save money, and amaze their guests at the same time:

“Most of the time there is no need to peel vegetables and fruit, and a lot of the nutrients are present in the skin. It is also important to keep a record of your waste and understand where it is coming from. By doing this, you’ll be able to look for ways to reduce it. Creating rescue recipes is also an efficient and delicious way to reduce your food waste.”

  • Invest in technology

October of 2017 was an important month for the Winnow team and users. We launched our  #ForTheLoveOfFood campaign to celebrate food and all chefs working to reduce waste. In the same month, we had our 10th Chef’s Table interview where we talked to Thomas Thinning Petersen, Executive Chef at Hotel Scandic Copenhagen.

Thomas has been cooking for more than 20 years and carries a very diverse curriculum. During our conversation he used his vast professional experience to advise chefs on why they should rely on technology to manage their kitchens more effectively:

“Chefs who are looking to reduce food waste need to invest in technology to help them keep track of everything that is going on in the kitchen. It doesn't matter how good or experienced chefs are, we will never be as accurate and efficient as machines. We just can’t be on top of everything, all the time”.

According to Thomas, Winnow’s cutting-edge technology helps him in his daily operations: “The technology has given me multiple pairs of eyes. Now, I can identify certain problems that before I simply wasn’t able to notice”

  • Control your production level

In 2017 we had the pleasure to talk to Executive Chef Jirayu Kongjan, from Novotel Phuket Kamala Beach. He is well-known to our team in Singapore. With the help of Chef Jirayu, Winnow partnered-up with Novotel Phuket Kamala Beach to put together an event aiming at promoting food waste reduction efforts in the Asia Pacific region.

The team at Novotel Phuket Kamala Beach has managed to reduce its food waste by an amazing 72%, saving around 21,000 meals annually. For chef Jirayu, there are many ways to decrease wastage, but in hotels especially, controlling production level is crucial. “There are many ways to reduce food waste. My main advice is to control the food you cook for guests and to make sure you do not forecast too much or too little.”

In the interview,  the chef highlighted that the most effective way from him and his team to manage food production is cooking according to the numbers of rooms booked. “We normally forecast how much food we should cook at each day based on the hotel’s occupancy and other factors”

  • Create awareness and engage your team

We also love working with contract caterers, and in 2017 we had the opportunity to speak with Robert Neary, Development Chef at Elior. Neary started his career in hotels and moved into contract catering in 1994. Before joining Elior in 2012, he had worked for different contract caterer companies including High Table, Sutcliffe Catering, Restaurant Associates and Baxterstorey.

He opened up to us about his mains challenges when implementing a food waste strategy, and how he managed to overcome them. As for many other chefs out there, Robert had a challenging time getting his team on board: “Any change in a kitchen is a challenge because we all work under huge pressure. We have set ways of doing things and to change that can be a challenge. Most of the Chefs don’t see the benefit of food waste reduction. They think they don’t have the time to manage waste or that they already managing food waste efficiently”.

Check out how to successfully engage your kitchen team in food waste reduction

But, after raising awareness about the issue and engaging his team, Robert managed to get everyone's collaboration and started implementing different strategies to reduce waste. “We have reduced service times in some areas, we have changed menu cycles on salad section, we have reduced our production numbers which in turn has reduced our labour pressure”.

Want more tips for embracing zero waste in the kitchen and increase your kitchen’s profitability? Download our guide below, and learn the best initiatives you can start implementing in your kitchen straight-away.

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