Turning Waste Into Wins

By Claire Cummings, Waste Specialist for Bon Appétit Management Company

Wasted food in our industry is rarely a good thing: it means all the time and resources that went into growing, distributing, and cooking that food are squandered. It often means that food is going to a landfill, where it decomposes and emits methane, the greenhouse gas 20-25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. And let’s not forget, wasted food almost always means wasted money!

Despite all the problems associated with waste, I am happy to share that my employer, Bon Appétit Management Company, has found a way to turn our waste into something positive for our food-service operations and for our community. More than 70 of our kitchens at colleges, universities, and corporations around the country are taking leftover, edible food that would otherwise get tossed out, and donating it to people in need on a regular basis – a process known as food recovery.

We at Bon Appétit probably shared many of the same concerns you did upon first hearing about food recovery:

  • But do we even have enough food to donate? Yes, it is simply the nature of our industry. We can’t be certain how many people are coming in and what they are going to eat every day. Even small servings recovered, day after day, add up to a lot of food over time.
  • But doesn’t that take a lot of staff time and energy? Not when you work with great partners like the Food Recovery Network!

There are many common misconceptions about food recovery, but rest assured that it can be done, it is easy to do, and it is completely worth the minimal time and energy it takes to donate.

It is hard not to love this simple solution to waste and hunger issues in our community, and our guests couldn’t be more thrilled to see us donate. That is why when the Food Recovery Network asked us to be the first food service company to pilot their Food Recovery Certification, a new certification to recognize businesses that are regularly donating food, we didn’t hesitate to jump on board. The certification process is easy to do, and the rewards are significant.

Our first cafés that have gone through the certification process have passed with flying colors and our chefs are already getting positive feedback from their guests:

“Our customers care about their community and the environment, and they want to know that we care, too. Bon Appétit cafes have increasingly been donating our surplus food to hungry people. Food Recovery Certified is helping us communicate this to our customers in a compelling way,” says Craig Hetherington, Bon Appétit Executive Chef at the Seattle Art Museum’s TASTE restaurant.

It is hard to imagine something more universally hated than waste; it is just so painful to see good food getting thrown out, especially when there is such a need (about 1 in 6 Americans is food insecure). So for all you chefs out there: we encourage you to start a food recovery program, donate, get certified, and turn this universally hated problem into a win for your restaurant and your community!

For more information, contact:
Cara Mayo, Program Manager for Food Recovery Certified
Email: cara.mayo@foodrecoverynetwork.org

Posted by: Chefs Collaborative

Member Spotlight: Flavor Plate

This month we talked with Holly & Corey Machanic, new members and co-founders of restaurant website design firm Flavor Plate.

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Tell us about yourselves! What is your history with the sustainable food world?

Well, it’s actually pretty simple, and more personal than business-related… We have two young girls (7 and 10), and ever since their birth—while coinciding with the release of some of the more popular food documentaries—we’ve become very aware of the importance of the source and quality of our food. We think it’s too easy to assume that what’s on the market today is “safe” or “healthy” to eat, but the reality is we really need to be questioning things more thoroughly. Once you gain an awareness about the importance of where your food comes from, it becomes a lens through which you can see more critically, and it enables you to make better informed choices.

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What does FlavorPlate do and what’s your vision?

We have over 15 years of web usability and design experience—working with many national and international brands—combined with over 10 years in restaurant and account management positions. Like many of us, we dreamed of making a living by doing something we love. We’ve been fortunate to be able to develop a product that combines so many of our professional skills with our personal interests. It’s a real gratifying experience.

Our goal with Flavor Plate was to make a restaurant’s most valuable marketing tool (i.e. its website) easy to use, manageable, accessible, and affordable. We’ve found the best way to do this is to mask the complexity, with simplicity. If we keep our product simple and easy to use, our clients will be empowered to use the technology, and their guests will have a positive experience using their website. It’s a very basic premise and everyone that tries Flavor Plate agrees—anyone can use it.

We created Flavor Plate from the ground up specifically for restaurants. It’s not a WordPress solution, or some other all-purpose website solution. It’s a custom product. All of its features, and how you use them are specific to what a restaurant needs, how a restaurant functions, and probably more importantly, what their customers need.

FP-MagnoliaIn a nutshell, Flavor Plate is a template-based solution that allows restaurants to build and manage their website. Our customers can easily manage their menus, photos, events, contact information, farm partnerships, press, and any other content that helps tell their story. They can connect with social networks, and other third-party services like reservations and online ordering. We offer a seamless integration with our online merchant partner to give each of our customers the ability to sell their own gift cards or gift certificates through their website. This feature is included with their regular monthly subscription. In addition to all of that, we’ve anticipated the need for mobile optimization by building every Flavor Plate website on a responsively designed template. This assures that our clients’ sites display properly, or “respond,” to every screen size automatically (desktop computers, smartphones, and tablets), and the restaurateur never has to take any extra steps to assure this—it’s built in.

Why do you think the chef community is crucial to support in sustainable practices?

There are many chefs and restaurateurs that run their businesses by putting their values first. Those values (i.e. supporting sustainable food practices) often come with a higher price tag. By choosing to use fresh, locally-sourced ingredients they’re doing what feels right—right for their business, right for their local economy, and right for their guests. At Flavor Plate, we want to recognize this commitment, and help support them by doing as much as we can.

In addition to supporting organizations like the Chef’s Collaborative, Farm Aid, and other local food networks, we’re offering discounted prices on our monthly subscription and design services to “Farm-to-Table” supporters.

Why are you a member of Chefs Collaborative?

We’re a small bootstrapping start-up, and it’s important that we align ourselves with organizations who are working towards a shared goal. We decided to support Chefs Collaborative because of their important role in the food community. They’re in a unique position to be able to use their network to communicate valuable information about sustainability to large audiences, and ultimately, this work is going to benefit us all.

What’s next for Flavor Plate?

We’re very aware of the many unique challenges that restaurants face, and we believe there is a place for technology to help solve some of them. Our hope is that as we develop more relationships with customers and local food organizations, we’ll gain a better understanding of these challenges, and continually improve our product to help resolve these issues.

There is one opportunity on our radar that we feel strongly about, and that’s helping the small independent farms. There’s a need to craft a like-solution for them, and with a little more research, and a better understanding of their needs, we feel that we’ll be able to create a stronger connection between the “farm” and the “table.” So if you’re a small farm, or a restaurant that would like to help support a farm, please contact us. We’d love to talk with you about how we can help.

Additional Info

Interested in learning more? Flavor Plate offers a free initial design setup to each new client. Custom design services are also available at an hourly rate. Be sure to check out their website
for more.

Corey and Holly Machanic live in Burlington, Vermont and are lucky to be surrounded by some of the most progressive sustainable food initiatives in the country.

 

Posted by: Chefs Collaborative

Pasta Making with Local Grains: 2/25!

We hope that you and your restaurant have survived the Valentine’s weekend. We’ve got an exciting opportunity coming up for all you CHEFS and COOKS in the Boston area on Tuesday, February 25th.

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Boston Local Leader Larry Leibowitz

What: Local Leader Larry Leibowitz and chef William Kovel have teamed up with local grain producer Four Star Farms to put together a pasta making demonstration, using a variety of local grains.
Where: Catalyst Restaurant, 300 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA 02139.
When: Tuesday, February 25th.
Why: Here’s a chance to learn some new skills or new approaches to skills you may already have, all while incorporating locally grown grains.
Who: This free event is open to working chefs and their staff only.

 

Posted by: Alisha Fowler

Call for responsible antibiotics use

Image: Pew Charitable Trusts, saveantibiotics.org

Image: Pew Charitable Trusts, saveantibiotics.org

While people need a doctor’s prescription to take antibiotics, anyone can buy antibiotics for cows, chickens, and pigs over the counter. This is one of the reasons why more than 70% of antibiotics are sold for use on livestock rather than people.

This matters, because the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals breeds deadly drug-resistant bacteria. The CDC reported that these germs are responsible for at least 2 million human illnesses and 23,000 deaths every year. Many experts are worried that our overuse of antibiotics is signaling the end of antibiotics as we know it (check out this fascinating article by Maryn McKenna for more).

It’s time to stop using antibiotics to boost meat production!

Just before the new year, the FDA proposed a new policy that would require veterinarians to oversee the use of all antibiotics in animal feed and water. This proposal is a step in the right direction, but it contains some critical loopholes that could allow antibiotic overuse to continue.

As a chef, you have the power to influence the conversation on antibiotics. The FDA and the White House are listening to you, and they want your comments.

Will you weigh in? Click here to call for responsible antibiotic use and help us reach our goal of 1,000 chefs taking action. 

Contact us with any questions!

Posted by: Alisha Fowler

Trash Fish II: Back in Boston for One Night Only

The Trash Fish Dinner is coming back to Boston on March 16 - just in time for the annual Seafood Expo North America (not exactly a bastion of sustainability)!

We sold out early last year, and you won’t want to miss this year’s brand-new lineup of chefs. They’re going to knock your socks off, cooking some of the best sustainable, undervalued species that are real alternatives to threatened fish like Atlantic Cod and Bluefin Tuna.

During the dinner, you’ll hear from seafood experts and learn to love undervalued, delicious fish like Acadian Redfish, Scup, and Mackerel. At the same time, we’ll support local fishing communities. Join us! Full details are below.

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Posted by: Alisha Fowler

EPA’s final assessment of Pebble Mine, Tom Douglas rallies

The saga continues – and no, this isn’t a movie. This month, the EPA released its final assessment of the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska (and it’s a damning assessment at that!). The report concluded that Pebble Mine could destroy up to 94 miles of streams where the salmon spawn and migrate – and 5,350 acres of wetlands, ponds, and lakes. The science is clear: mining and salmon do not mix. 

We’ve been following this story, and engaging with the movement to stop Pebble Mine, for years. And we’re thrilled to report that the steady pressure from chefs and food professionals raising their collective voice to say no to Pebble Mine has been critical. It helps lawmakers do the right thing. Thank you. 

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Tom Douglas speaking at the rally. Photo credit: TomDouglas.com

Last week, a rally also went down in Seattle, WA to keep the pressure on stopping Pebble Mine. On January 23, Washington Senator Maria Cantwell and more than 250 chefs and food professionals – including Tom Douglas – stood together to demand that the Obama administration prevent Pebble Mine from destroying Bristol Bay, Alaska.

The rally brought together “salmon fishermen and their families, mechanics and engineers who build parts for the fishing boats that travel north to Alaska each summer,  Native American tribe members from southern Alaska and around Seattle, environmental activists,  salmon processors and food distributors, patrons of restaurants and consumers who have eaten and loved salmon, and of course… Tom Douglas.” (excerpt from TomDouglas.com.) Participants spoke about why Pebble Mine would affect them, and their families and work. You can read more about the rally on Tom’s blog here.

This rally could not come at a critical time. For while we can feel good knowing the EPA is well aware of the negative impacts of Pebble Mine, the fate of Bristol Bay is far from secure. Until the final ruling is made, it is more important than ever that we keep steady pressure on our lawmakers, and the Obama administration, to prevent Pebble Mine from destroying the pristine waters of Bristol Bay.

Posted by: Alisha Fowler

Save the Date for the 2014 Sustainable Food Summit!

Chefs Collaborative is thrilled to bring the 6th Sustainable Food Summit to Boulder, Colorado from September 28-30!

bouldercvb1Things you might not know about Boulder:

Meat will be front and center in Boulder as we explore the threads of environmental and human health in this hotbed of innovation and sustainability. The local chef and professional food community has already begun to plan an incredible welcome, which will include farm dinners out on the range and food with a new point of view. We’re planning hands-on “kitchen breakout” sessions in local restaurants with nationally-known chefs and experts, and keynotes from chef and sustainability leaders. Tickets go on sale in a few months – stay tuned!

Feel free to share your ideas and thoughts for sessions and speakers with Alisha Fowler, Program and Marketing Director. See you in September!

Posted by: Alisha Fowler

[VIDEO] Is it summer yet? Watermelon Rind Pickles

Is it summer yet!?

Well, not quite, but Chef Jay Pierce from Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in Greensborough and Cary, NC, is talking up his contribution to The Chefs Collaborative Cookbook - our fantastic cookbook authored by Ellen Jackson and Chefs Collaborative published by Taunton Press. His recipe, Watermelon Rind Pickles, is a refreshing Southern staple. And it gives us hope that warmer weather will soon be on the horizon.

In the video below, Chef Pierce talks about how the recipe embodies his approach to sustainability: waste not, want not. The tangy recipe blends ginger, lemon, and allspice berries for a sweetly sharp pickle. Remember this easy trick after your watermelon-filled summer parties, we can’t wait to try it out!

Posted by: Hayley Fager

A delicious way to start the New Year: Wayne Johnson’s Spicy Calamari

Chef Wayne Johnson, Executive Chef at Ray’s Boathouse in Seattle, WA, contributed a delicious seafood recipe to The Chefs Collaborative Cookbook, authored by Ellen Jackson and Chefs Collaborative, published by Taunton Press.

The chef’s recipe is for Spicy Calamari with Tomatoes and Saffron Aioli.  This simple recipe is good for any home cook, and the saffron aioli combined with the lemon and chile flavors of the calamari add a kick to this tasty dish.  With a few slices of toasted bread and some peppery watercress, serve it as a small appetizer or a light lunch or dinner.

Here’s a video of Chef Johnson describing his dish, and what makes it unique: 

Posted by: Hayley Fager

Happy New Year! Sustainable Resolutions

As we rang in 2014 with family and friends this week, our team had some time to reflect on our work, and what motivates us all year long.

happy-new-year-wallpaperI know that one major driver of our work is that we are all committed to building a more sustainable food landscape. We want to help create a world where quality ingredients are commonplace, instead of the exception. Personally, one of my new years resolutions is to learn as much as I can about the misuse of antibiotics in animal production, so that we can best support you all as we take action on this issue together.

And all this reflection made me want to ask you: do you have a New Years Resolution about food, sustainability, and ideally both? We’d love to hear it!

Please share your New Years Resolution below, or post your resolution on Twitter and tag us @chefscollab!

Happy New Year,

The Chefs Collab. Team

Posted by: Alisha Fowler