Waste & Allergens dominate Chef seminar

The UK’s Sustainable Restaurants Association maintains that on average 0.48kg of each cover in restaurants and pubs can be attributed to waste while WRAP – a UK ‘efficient waste’ resources company - estimates that each kilogramme of waste costs the caterer €5.

These startling statistics were meted out by Maurice Bergin, Managing Director of greenhospitality.ie at the recent Chef Knowledge Exchange event run by Unilever Food Solutions in Dublin’s Medley restaurant.

Maurice pointed out that if a restaurant has 100 covers a day, the resultant waste would total 48kg or €240-worth of food simply thrown out.

“Those 100 covers a day mount up to losses of €87,600 a year… Imagine if that were profit.”

When an outlet serves 200 covers a day this loss tops €175,200 per annum, he pointed out.

“The average hotel threw away 50 tonnes of food in 2012 which equates to €250,000,” he said, adding that in one case this figure had been 150 tonnes, “… and let’s remember that 150 tonnes of food waste represents €750,000 in lost cash.

“Are you weighing your food waste?” he wondered of the restaurateurs and chefs present in the audience.

In order to counter this, kitchens and kitchen staff needed to tackle the root cause through careful planning, preparation and eliminating as much plate waste as possible.

“As consumers, we throw away about one-third of all the food we buy,” he said, “As producers, we throw away about 20% of food before it leaves the factory gate. In fact, from Farm to Fork, around 50% of the food we produce is thrown away — yet we have two billion people starving around the world.”

As part of the Green Hospitality Programme, his presentation focused on ‘Minimising Food Waste in the Catering Sector’. He urged everyone present to join the green Hospitality movement and save money.

Maurice also asked why more restaurants didn’t put the provenance of their chicken down on the menu.

He’s convinced that the market will pay for good quality and service and it will really pay for local provenance, so why not buy Irish chicken as well as foreign chicken and give the customers a choice?

“Offer your customers a choice of Irish chicken and foreign-imported chicken and see which the customer will choose,” he said.

Special guest Knorr Ambassador Mark Sargeant, former Head Chef with Gordon Ramsey and a Michelin Star Chef, was also on hand to bring everyone up to speed on trends in the catering industry.

Asian cuisine had risen in influence over the last few years and he pointed out that coriander was now the biggest-selling herb in the UK.

The seminar began with an outline of the forthcoming food allergen legislation from Professor Mary Flynn who told the audience that one in 100 people have a food allergy and one in 300 have a coeliac-related allergy.

After December 13th it will be mandatory that all 14 highlighted allergens be declared in writing if contained in any dish or drink on offer to customers.

The incoming law also applies to derivatives too such as peanut oil or sulphides in some spices.

Prof Mary Flynn also highlighted the inherent dangers in a kitchen for allergy-suffering customers through cross-contamination of foods being prepared.


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