5 Questions with Dick Cattani - CEO of Restaurant Associates

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1.   What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

I became more aware of the situation and frankly enlightened after attending many industry conferences, company meetings and listening to speaker after speaker articulate the abuse of food waste in our society.

2.   Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?  

At a very early age my mother would consistently tell me to eat every morsel on my plate “because the people in Europe are starving.”  It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized the people in Europe weren’t starving, but people in other parts of the world were!  My mother was, however, very conscious of food waste and was very thrifty in saving money and utilizing leftover food.

3.   What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

In our business I have made it a priority to reduce portions in our restaurants and staff cafes, as well as reducing food and beverage inventories in our units.  Every unit in the company has much too much product on hand that only results in food waste.  Our volume of conference catering food and beverage also was a problem until we adjusted the program by reducing the quantities offered

4.  What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

We will not turn the corner until it is addressed at an early age with our children in schools, clubs, camps and social media. 

5.   What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Teach and influence one young person today!  I’ve been explaining this issue to my 10-year old granddaughter.  I’m making progress!

 

5 Questions with Arlin Wasserman, Partner at Changing Tastes

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1.   What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?   

I grew up in working in a family owned produced company and even before I went to college I knew I wanted to work on environmental issues. I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time to launch the nation’s first weekly recycling pick up program and then create the concept of “plant-forward” dining when I was working for a catering company. This just always seems to have been my calling.

2.   Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?   

My dad, who ran our family own produced distribution company in Philadelphia back when I was a child. Each day, he’d bring home a big bag of fruits and vegetables that were so ripe, they couldn’t handle being driven around on the delivery truck the next day. Those “perfectly ripe” fruits and vegetables would have gone to waste, but instead were a part every meal we head.

3.   What change have you made personally to be more mindful? 

As someone who travels for work a bit too often, making soups and stocks is a once in a while activity. But to help reduce food waste and be ready to simmer at a moment’s notice, I keep three big containers in my freezer:  one for vegetable peelings and the others for the occasional bones when we cook meat or poultry or save the bones from a whole fish.

4.   What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?   

We are pretty well insulated from the problems of food waste and many of us are fortunate enough to just be able to pay a bit more. I think the recent generation of products made from scraps and waste, including snack foods and drinks, show the solution can be delicious and are likely to engage more of us than a campaign about environmental problems.

5.   What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference? 

When you order a meal, order just enough. When you ask what to eat, think what’s fresh and in season. And when a restaurant offers you more, like a buy one get one free promotion, ask if you can get it later or wrapped to take it home. Don’t take more than you need.

 

5 Questions with Greg Campbell, Executive Chef - MoPOP Seattle

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1.   What’s your take on all the attention food waste is getting lately?

I think it is great, anything that can be done to cut back on the amount of food that is going is the garbage is a positive.

2.   What are your best tips to make it easy to reduce food waste in the professional kitchen?

Cutting back on over ordering and over portioningis always the best way to cut waste.  We keep track of what we have sold in the past to use as a guide for future orders.

3.   How about in the home kitchen?

Don't buy too much at one time.  it is better to go to the grocery store several times a week than throw out food that has gone bad.

4.   What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Be aware of the portions you are making.  Often when you are hungry you cook more than you are really going to eat. 

5.   What is your favorite way to repurpose leftovers?

We try to plan ahead for our leftovers. For instance we have pork one night and then fried rice the next, Or roast beef and then French dip sandwiches.  This also helps because a part of your second meal is already cooked and ready to go.

5 Questions with Mark Freeman of Microsoft

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1.    What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

I have always had a passion about doing the right thing for the earth – and at Microsoft, we are in a unique position to be able to implement some of these dreams as well as influence others. Food waste in particular interests me because of what I learned at the most recent World Expo in Milan, which focused on how to feed the 9 billion projected population by 2050.  By focusing NOW on reducing the amount of food that we waste, feeding 9 billion might be more achievable than we thought.  We may have the ability to feed the planet not necessarily by focusing solely on growing or raising more food, but rather by changing current behaviors and reducing waste to feed the world.  

2.    Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?

I had the opportunity to meet Carlo Patrini, who started the Slow Food movement, when I was at the College of Gastronomy and Science in Bra, Italy. Although he spoke very little English, and I not much Italian, we were able to understand each other enough to know that serving good, clean and fair food and treating the earth right would garner the ability to not only feed the planet…but to do so in a responsible way.

3.   What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

Personally, I have been focusing in on using durables instead of disposables. The idea of throwing something into a landfill is the worst, but I also really don’t know that throwing something into a compost or recycle bin is that much better.  To me, the only way to keep from doing that is to use durable and reusable containers.  At Microsoft, we are considering the same thing and using data to determine how much food to produce on any given day.  By utilizing predictive analytics and massive amounts of data from our POS systems, we can now predict within a 96% accuracy rate how many people will be in our Cafes tomorrow, and a 92% accuracy rate 30-days out. Knowing this give us an advantage in the quest for zero-waste; we reduce waste by not creating it in the first place.

4.   What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

I think that constant visibility to the food waste problem and the constant support of celebrities (like Anthony Bourdain and others) will continue to drive the point home and keep it top-of-mind for Americans. I also think that if we get influential activists such as Al Gore to endorse it as part of their highly publicized platforms that would help.

5.   What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Durables - drink liquids (water, coffee, juice) out of a reusable containers.  The biggest thing to remember about “throwing things away” is that there is no “away” – everything we waste has impact.

5 Questions with Susie Weintraub

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1.       What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

My 3 boys.  I want my children to have an appreciation for the abundance of food and resources that we have – and realize that there are hundreds of millions of people (including 13 million children in the US alone) that are food insecure.  We can help by being more mindful and responsible with the resources we have – and the food we eat.  Reducing food waste is something that everyone – regardless of age – can support and help to mitigate. 

2.       Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?

For me, it wasn’t a person that initially caught my attention. It was the statistic that 40% of all food produced in wasted in the US. I first thought “that can’t be right” – then started to dig in and found out in fact it is accurate – and may actually be a conservative estimate.

So personally, and professionally – I thought this is something we can truly impact.  Starting at home, but also creating awareness within and throughout Compass Group. Being the world’s largest global food service company, I felt this was an initiative that creates positive impact for people and planet, but also made commercial business sense.

3.       What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

I keep that 40% statistic top of mind when I shop, cook, make lunches for my kids, eat at restaurants – and remind my children of the same.  Gently encouraging my family and friends to be more mindful of food waste is a powerful means of shifting behavior – but a lot of times the 40% statistic alone grabs attention and resonates with people.

4.       What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

I think it’s simply continuing to raise awareness of the food waste issue. I’ve been in the food service industry for over 20 years, and I wasn’t aware of the magnitude of food waste until about 3 years ago. By creating awareness, and giving folks simple, easy tactics they can personally exercise to help reduce food waste (and/or recover where applicable) – I think collectively we can dramatically reduce the current statistic.  People want to do the right thing – they just need to be aware of the issue.

5.       What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Keep that 40% statistic top of mind when shopping, eating, serving and cooking.  It’s nothing dramatic that needs to change in your personal life - just mindfulness alone tends to make you think twice about how much to buy, order, prepare – and portion (especially for kids!)

 

5 Questions with Chef Jet Tila

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1: As a chef, we know you’re very conscious of food waste. What’s your take on all the attention food waste is getting lately?

We’ve been eating nose-to-tail for 20 years now, using every part of the animal, so we created something called root-to-stem as part of our Vegetable Revolution, or Veg Rev.  The days of peeled carrots are over and now we’re roasting carrots with the peel on.  We are inspiring chefs to use it all - traditional tops of carrots, greens, turnips and broccoli trimmings.  Vegetables are the place to teach our culinarians to reduce waste and where we can really make an impact! 

2: What are your best tips to reduce food waste in the home kitchen?

Start with the obvious dishes.  Carrots and cauliflower are quintessential dishes for the Veg Rev.  Stop peeling your carrots, instead give a nice rinse and wash, then roast them.  Get creative and find recipes that fully utilize vegetables.  Plus composting and recycling – they all tie together. 

3: What changes have you made personally to be more mindful? 

We don’t’ waste anything in the Tila house.  We’re cutting fruit and composting what we can.  If the cut fruit sits for 2-3 days and it looks like we’re not getting to it, we stick it in the freezer to become smoothies.  Same with Kale and broccoli – we throw it into the freezer.  Everything becomes smoothies at the end of the week.  It’s a mindset of how can we stay creative with food and really reduce waste. 

4: What advice would you give to someone who wants to make a difference in the amount of food that they waste, but doesn’t know where to begin? 

If you have something that’s not going to last – throw it in the freezer.  Between composting, freezing, and utilization we can all make a big difference.

5: Favorite way to use up leftovers?

We build up the freezer for breakfast smoothies.  On the weekend omelets and frittatas are always a way we use up extras, and fried rice.  Between these 3 dishes we have no waste.  In our house, you are using everything all the time.

That’s the Tila way.

5 Questions with Fabio Viviani

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1.       What’s your take on all the attention food waste is getting lately?

Americans waste almost as much food as they consume so it really starts with us as chefs, and anyone passionate about food, to educate the masses so more food can be preserved and saved from being wasted.  With millions of people not being able to feed themselves, throwing food away its a crime.

2.       What are your best tips to make it easy to reduce food waste in the professional kitchen?

Use the whole animal, use vegetable scraps for stocks and sauces, and do compost.

3.       How about in the home kitchen?

Same advice as above.  Plus, don't shop if you don't need it, and increase your trips to the grocery store.

4.       What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Purchase less, batch cook and freeze.

5.       What is your favorite way to repurpose leftovers?

Making great soups, love soups!