Reducing waste has been heavily covered in the media in recent years but has always been at the forefront of a good chef’s mind. Anyone that is GP or financially motivated (you know who you are) knows that any waste is lost revenue so will always be keen to keep it to a minimum. A lot of what goes in UK bins would be used in poorer nations so it is a positive step that people are becoming more aware of this, especially in these difficult times.
In addition, the less we waste, lowers our carbon footprint and reduces damage to the environment, another very well publicised topic. Larger organisations need to be seen to be reducing waste so we are constantly being challenged by our clients to come up with ideas and ways to help them improve.
Different ways to reduce waste
It is important to remember that waste doesn’t just mean cuttings what goes into the bin, there are a lot of products that don’t even get to market because they are misshapen or don’t meet the expectations of size, shape, colour etc. This rarely impacts the actual taste and most things are cut, sliced, chopped, diced etc before use so there really should not be this snobbery around produce having to look pretty. I have never had a customer complain to me that they thought their cucumber was wonky! If life gives you perfect lemons, it means they’ve been sprayed with wax to make them look like that, so pause before making your lemonade.
Your freezer is your friend
Remember that the freezer is your friend. We hold a training course on reducing waste for our clients in both their offices and at home, this includes a recipe pack with plenty of ideas for batch cooking. For anyone that grinds their own coffee beans or uses pods, keep the used grounds in a container in the freezer as these can be used in multiple recipes. I recently discovered, as a lifelong coffee hater, that vegetables cooked in coffee grounds take on a whole new flavour, which led me to having the best tasting celeriac of my life. I still can’t drink the stuff though and remain dedicated to Yorkshire Tea.
We also run a course for chefs which has going for 10 years, with ideas constantly evolving over that time. In catering, nothing ever stands still and the changes in techniques and recipes from even 5 years ago are huge. We develop new ideas with a group of chefs and then a handful of clients, to make sure the end result doesn’t taste like it would have been better off in the bin and is not just style over substance.