By Tom Tanner, Sustainable Restaurant Association
For any foodservice business looking to make a serious dent in its food waste, carrying out a simple audit is the best place to start – whether you think you’re a serial waster or a waste warrior. It’s not rocket science, but it can be challenging working to work out a straightforward, effective and engaging
Peter Weeden, Head Chef of the Duke of Cambridge & Head of Sustainability for the Culpeper Family Hospitality Group, who’s been part of the Food Made Good network for the duration of the SRA’s existence, chose to use WRAP’s Guardians of Grub. Just ahead of Food Waste Action Week, Peter he tells us why, how it’s helped and why he’d recommend others to do the same.
Why did you decide to engage with Guardians of Grub:
“We did it so we could be more aware of what we’re using and wasting and as a vehicle for getting all staff to have better understanding of how they can play a part and we all share an interest in and responsibility for it. Once the team have more awareness, they want to share more responsibility without you having to putting it on them and they can then become the driver for success. That is the key to all positive behaviour change.”
How does it work and how demanding is it?
“It was very easy to do because the resources are so accessible. You can access it on many different levels. If you’re a beginner, there’s lots of handholding. If you’re more advanced,
So far, they’ve run two week-long periods of separation and measurement. It involved setting up four bins; for spoilage, prep waste, buffet waste (this included coffee grounds and citrus waste from the bar) and plate waste.
“It helped put food waste front and centre of the team’s mind – as they shared responsibilities during those weeks and discussed how it was going in the team briefings.”
They are going to do a third week, as with a frequently changing menu and slightly unpredictable custom, Peter wants to be sure that they’ve taken a truly representative sample.
What have been the key findings?
So far, the two weeks of audit has shown Peter and his colleagues that their waste split is 33% plate waste, 51% Prep, 10% spoilage and 6% ‘buffet’ waste – coffee, tea and citrus from the bar.
Peter says: “It told us that we’re already doing a very good job. The majority of our waste is unavoidable – like onion skin and tomato stalks. The programme has made us challenge ourselves even more. Do we have to put that in the bin? We’re already now using our onion skins to make powder which makes a lovely mild seasoning and adds beautiful colour. The team is right behind it and it’s helped give them a good focus and created an ongoing conversation.”
Being an organic pub, with the associated higher food costs, means Peter and his team have been super-mindful of the true cost of food and waste for years. He says he hasn’t thrown out a cauliflower leaf or stalk in five years. Why would he when a) the organic ones cost 50% more and b) they are incredibly tasty and versatile?
“This whole process has been a great reminder of what a good job we’re doing, but also why we’re doing it and what more we can do. It’s also a great reminder of the balance between ethics and money-making.”
What changes are you making and what happens next?
Peter will now be looking to support his colleagues in the other pubs in the group to complete the same process
The Duke of Cambridge will wait until they’re completed the third measuring and monitoring before setting any targets, but they’ve already taken some steps, although with low levels of waste, they are small margins.
- Halving the amount of spinach leaves they serve on the side of a couple of starters
- Serving greens as a separate side rather than as part of the cottage pie dish
- Ordering in bones once less a month and boiling for longer to ensure they extract as much stock and gelatine as they can
Advice to others considering taking action on food waste
Peter’s message to any chef considering using the Guardians of Grub tools would be: “It really doesn’t have to be a faff. In fact it’s a brilliant way of carving five minutes out of your schedule to look at things from a different perspective. It’s an opportunity to engage the whole team, because the more people you involve, the greater the success you’ll have.”