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Waste

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I know that waste happens but we seem to be having some issues with too much waste in the kitchen.  Some (not all) staff have become very wasteful lately and we have to do something about it.

 

So, now we're tracking the waste and we made a new policy today (that everyone is expected to read, initial and abide by) that they are not to throw anything out without first getting approval from either the KM or I.  There are exceptions to that.. like vegetable peelings, fruit peelings, egg shells etc but that's as far as it goes.  Anything edible must be seen and tasted (if necessary) by one of us before it hits the trash can. 

 

Our biggest concern at the moment is with the fruit. Our main fruiter needs to change his ways when he is working on his fruit cups.  He wastes bin after bin of diced fruit and while it is too ripe to serve fresh alot of the time it's still edible and can be frozen to use in fruit cocktails.  He's going to be the one who has the hardest time with the new policy  but we'll work with him on it and help him to see where things can be saved and reused and where others just have to hit the dumpster. 

 

I'm trying to work on a system that will accurately show our waste and I made a waste sheet today and that will work well M-F but the weekends I'm not sure about.  Like any breakfast place we do the bulk of our weekly business on Saturdays and Sundays so it's working on waste management durng those days I need so advie on.

 

How do you guys suggest we track it?  The station that has the biggest waste on the weekend is eggs.. yolks break, eggs have blood spots or worse in them, customers change their minds, servers make a mistake, things have to be remade because the pass is backed up and what was once an over easy egg is now over well because it sat a little long under the lamp...it happens.  Same stuff different weekend.  The other stations have minimal waste except for fruits and as I said we have to work with that station to help them see how they can change and improve. 

 

Any suggestions you have would be much appreciated!

 

Thanks in advance

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post #2 of 17

Y'know, this may be slightly off-topic but.....

 

I just finished candying 20 lbs of orange peels, and now am on my 4th day of candying lemon peels.  Most of this goes for in-house made pastries, but I will be making fruit cake and mince meat with some of it this fall.

 

Back on topic.

 

Have you got a good scale?

If your fruit guy is doing, say melons, get him/her to weigh  the gross weight, then his finished weight (whatever is consumable).  This is the figure you want him/her to concentrate on, and encourage, entice, or co-erce them to get better numbers.  A lot better to focus on the finished weight than to peer into garbages or to sample  stuff before it goes into the garbages.

 

Not much to do about eggs though.  Older eggs tend to break a lot more easily, and if you have a higher ratio of blood stained eggs, you may have a good "right" to complain to the egg supplier.  

 

Ther also might be a feeling of "whatever" in the kitchen.  Perhaps a reward for shifts with a lower food cost %? 

 

Hope this might help.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #3 of 17

Leenie,

 

Ever since you first started posting here, your contributions and personal story have been, as a whole, great; inspiring, even. 

 

Not this time. 

 

Suggestion: 

Get rid of your proposed system immediately.  Tell staff waste really is a problem, and you were trying to get their attention.

 

Reasoning:

The times to catch waste are at ordering and prep.  Ordering is management responsibility.  So is deciding what quantities need to be prepped.  If you're prepping two pans of fruit salad a day, only selling one, and the KM hasn't sent the word to garde to keep the fruit salad down to one pan -- whose fault is that? 

 

Something's got to give somewhere.  You either prepare a limited amount of fresh fruit, balancing the risk of waste against running out, or you serve fruit that's been sitting around for a week.  Frozen fruit is not fresh fruit.  Not in the market, not at home, and not at the restaurant.  You know that.  If you advertise fresh fruit on the menu, you'll have to attach a sticky so guests know you've given up.

 

I understand management is trying to crack down on costs, and that they've got a supervisor in place who wants more, more, more.  And it's understandable that you identify with the owners and their interests. There are limits.  You can't squeeze blood from a stone.  Requiring consent to throw away moldy applesauce is insane.  You can't treat your staff without respect and expect to get any back.  The system is a recipe for failure.

 

Sorry I can't be more positive,

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 8/11/10 at 4:14pm
post #4 of 17

I'd have to agree with BDL. Back in my first kitchen job, we got a new chef that immediately instituted the same policy. I had some iceberg that was shot and, thinking I'd be a smart-ass, ran it by him before I threw it out. He told me to save it. I came in the next day to cream of lettuce soup du jour. The very little of it that we sold didn't meet with rave reviews, to say the least. It didn't do much in the way of earning the new boss any respect, either.

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post #5 of 17

Quote:

Originally Posted by leeniek View Post

 

So, now we're tracking the waste and we made a new policy today (that everyone is expected to read, initial and abide by) that they are not to throw anything out without first getting approval from either the KM or I.  There are exceptions to that.. like vegetable peelings, fruit peelings, egg shells etc but that's as far as it goes.  Anything edible must be seen and tasted (if necessary) by one of us before it hits the trash can. 

 

...

 

I'm trying to work on a system that will accurately show our waste and I made a waste sheet today and that will work well M-F but the weekends I'm not sure about.  Like any breakfast place we do the bulk of our weekly business on Saturdays and Sundays so it's working on waste management durng those days I need so advie on.

 

 

Convoluted systems like this fail in both their ability to produce the results intended, and their ability to keep your staff happy.  Unhappy staff who don't feel respected will be far more wasteful in the long run.  Like BDL said:  pitch it, and do so pronto.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by leeniek View Post

How do you guys suggest we track it?  The station that has the biggest waste on the weekend is eggs.. yolks break, eggs have blood spots or worse in them, customers change their minds, servers make a mistake, things have to be remade because the pass is backed up and what was once an over easy egg is now over well because it sat a little long under the lamp...it happens.  Same stuff different weekend.  The other stations have minimal waste except for fruits and as I said we have to work with that station to help them see how they can change and improve. 

 

Any suggestions you have would be much appreciated!

 

Thanks in advance

 

 

I also work in a breakfast restaurant, and know full well the waste you're up against.  For starters, all the fruit guy needs is better training.  Give him that and you can scratch that off your list.  Egg station is a bit different, but not entirely; yes, yolks break, eggs overcook, eggs may look funny, and waitstaff may lag a bit in the pickup.   Consequently, your egg cook should be your most consistent, fast, and accurate employee.  If you're doing breakfast correctly, have enough volume, and have your prices set to be competitive while keeping your food costs at bay, then waste at the egg station shouldn't be something you worry about.

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for your thoughts and foodpump, BDL and Greg, no offense taken.  I asked for honest opinions and I know here I can always get that whether I am in the right or wrong you guys always give the straight goods and I appreciate that. 

 

I need to clarify.. the fruit cocktail is made with frozen fruits and then juices we order in so freezing our over ripe fruit is pretty much doing what we are paying suppliers to do for us.  People seem to like to see kiwi seeds in a cocktail for some reason.. I made one a couple of weeks ago that was blackberries, strawberries and kiwis with pineapple juice..   it sold out before it expired and that was a memorable event as our cocktails generally expire before they sell out.  And Greg... Lettuce soup.. EWWW.. in my kitchen the expired lettuce would have been written off on the waste sheet as expired inedible product.  I will save what I can but iceburg soup.. EWW

 

With the fruit BDL nailed  it I think.. our main fruiter is prepping too much.. we have a par sheet for how many pieces of fruit need to be cut to make the cups so I think It's back to basics and he is going to have to count out his fruit again as I am looking at a target of zero leftover prep.. that is where alot of the waste comes from is the over prepping and we have to get on that.  Yes we can freeze leftovers but that should not be regular practise. 

 

Thanks guys... with your replies and what's going through my mind now I think I see where to go with this and I can write an understandable memo in the morning for all stations.

 

a

 

 

 

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post #7 of 17

In my dream kitchen, we would be composting all appropriate waste.  I have worked in kitchens that composted, and I can tell you that it makes a big difference in how all the staff sees waste.  It's all too easy for garbage cans to add to the out-of-sight-out-of-mind syndrome.  When compost bins start filling up way too fast and trips to the bin become more and more frequent, it's much more apparent when the situation is not as tight as it should be. 

 

When I was a cook, our chef once took us all out back where he had our station trash cans lined up.  One by one, we had to empty them onto tarps laid out on the ground.  He also had several other bins that were not individual station bins, which showed even more waste from overproduction on the part of the whole kitchen.  It was a bit of overkill, but the point was certainly made.   I have set up bins for cooks to put all compost materials in, even if the kitchen didn't compost, just for the visual effect. Sometimes drastic problems require drastic measures. 

 

If your kitchen tracks and documents food waste well, you might consider posting the weekly/monthly reports for all to see, making a point to congratulate when waste is down, and asking for individual input regardless of the reported results.  Even if you already know the answers, asking for each persons opinion as to why they think waste was up one week and down another will get them thinking about it more, and could help to drive home the points of personal responsibility.  If they have a decent sense of initiative, they will start checking out the reports on their own time.  Personally, I find that it is often more effective to be the kitchen political activist by starting a full-on campaign to heighten awareness instead of resorting to short-lived dramatics, no matter how poignant.

post #8 of 17

Food waste here is usually picked up by someone associated with the restaurant for home-grown pigs, they supply the 'pig bins'.

 

To track egg waste for costing purposes maybe use a dedicated bin that you can weigh and divide by the weight of a cooked egg. After a while you should be able to make an accurate assessment by volume.

 

Once you have a consistent percentage it would be possible to raise the menu item costing figure to reflect the true cost of delivery....similar to hollandaise.

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post #9 of 17

Great advice for you my friend by these posters. Let me just say that the pen (Or key pad ) is the only way to get a handle on food cost. As a restaurant owner or operator you must know the volume of what your production numbers are going to be and do not run out but have enough to make your profit also. This is the toughest times when we have to guess our projected biz.As you know I do fixed budgets now but I still dabble in the food for profit world and the power of the pen when ordering is what controls the cost of the food you are selling when you as the KM or Sous do the ordering. Stuff happens with produce and veggies such as not ripe enough,overripe,and to much oxidation on the greens! Have a back up plan to save costs in these events and utilize it.

The Western philosophy of management has developed a blame the lowest denominator of the equation kind of mentality but that is not where to solve the problem. Eastern management has used the ownership policy which acts to solve the problems that arise in business at a higher management level and therefore eliminating the need for much of what we would call the blame game which also keeps  employee moral high and gives you a working edge on control of the costs. Management by empowering is one of the strongest tools we have and to take it away by creating more B.S. is a step back to the mid evil and will kick your behind in the long run. Another option my friend.......................

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post #10 of 17


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefboy2160 View Post

Great advice for you my friend by these posters. Let me just say that the pen (Or key pad ) is the only way to get a handle on food cost. As a restaurant owner or operator you must know the volume of what your production numbers are going to be and do not run out but have enough to make your profit also. This is the toughest times when we have to guess our projected biz.As you know I do fixed budgets now but I still dabble in the food for profit world and the power of the pen when ordering is what controls the cost of the food you are selling when you as the KM or Sous do the ordering. Stuff happens with produce and veggies such as not ripe enough,overripe,and to much oxidation on the greens! Have a back up plan to save costs in these events and utilize it.

The Western philosophy of management has developed a blame the lowest denominator of the equation kind of mentality but that is not where to solve the problem. Eastern management has used the ownership policy which acts to solve the problems that arise in business at a higher management level and therefore eliminating the need for much of what we would call the blame game which also keeps  employee moral high and gives you a working edge on control of the costs. Management by empowering is one of the strongest tools we have and to take it away by creating more B.S. is a step back to the mid evil and will kick your behind in the long run. Another option my friend.......................


I hope my post did not prompt your comment regarding Western philosophy of management.  That has not been my experience at all.  I completely agree with what others have said about starting at the top, from the point of ordering in this case.  Most often, that is where the largest issues in waste begin and can be resolved, but I thought it redundant to say so again.  It is not always the case, though, especially if neglect is involved.  Again, if it is a case of neglectful management leading to poor operation, it starts at the top, and those who are responsible must act positively.

 

A kitchen can act like tight-knit family, and sometimes perceptions can become skewed, affecting overall practice and production.  Even if it starts with a single individual, it can spread like wildfire in a tight kitchen.  It should not happen in a good kitchen, and I do not think that it typically does, but in those rare circumstances when it does, it is necessary to address the situation such as it is. 

 

If I misunderstood the point you were getting at, my sincerest apologies.  On the point of management by empowering (if it was directed toward something I wrote), where is the empowerment in neglecting the fact that what everyone does in a productive kitchen matters?  Stewards are just as important as chefs in any kitchen, and hierarchy does not apply when it comes to the importance of personal responsibility.  Personally, I think there is some misunderstanding of the American concept of individualism, perhaps in the absence of the context of teamwork.

post #11 of 17

I do not blame your fruit guy. I blame you and your kitchen manager. First it is up to you and him to tell the guy what to produce. Second put things on the menu that uses the ripened fruit. Like bread pudding with fruit or a tapioca fruit pudding or a fruit sauce.

or a sweet  noodle pudding.. Or a fruit coulli. Remember It is up to management to do the thinking don't depend on the worker.

You and your''Kitchen Manager'' should adhere to the policy of ' The buck ends here"'

Note/////// a Chiffonade or Julianne of Iceburg lettuce is used in some classic soups  as a garnish sprinkled on top. And the breakfast or egg cook is hardest station in kitchen.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Buchanan View Post
Note/////// a Chiffonade or Julianne of Iceburg lettuce is used in some classic soups  as a garnish sprinkled on top.


Interesting info Ed, hadn't heard of that garnish.This guy cooked it in though, same as you would mushrooms. The sous chef called it "cream of nothing" soup.

 

Back to the topic, a chef I worked for a few years back had this philosophy: if a cook is screwing up an item, the chef should take the blame first time round in the event s/he didn't properly communicate correct procedure to the cook. The chef should then re-train the cook on the item. Subsequent screw-ups then become the cook's responsibility.

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post #13 of 17

Your true food cost is (obviously) averaged over the cost of a week or even month.  The longer the better.  Stuff you throw in the garbage does not make you money so why even bother?  You are just indicting your kitchen and blaming them.  A long time ago I used to work for this one chef who kept one garbage can in the kitchen and it was by his desk.  Bad idea.

 

Take your eggs for example, see what you spent, take inventory, and then take the sales in everything where you use eggs.  Look and see where you can save or be more careful with usage.

 

Scrambled eggs are the worst in terms of trying to control costs.  The guys love to just crack a case of eggs and then scoop out more than they need.

 

Fruit cups:  Moving your production techniques from more prep to less prep will also help you out with your food cost.   My suggestion there is to prep all the fruit separate and just assemble it when needed.  Problem with fruit is when it all gets mixed in the stuff turns nasty in a day.

post #14 of 17

I worked in a kitchen that tracked waste and produced a monthly sheet and posted it up for the employees to read. Each time it had a goal to be met for the next month, and whether we met the goal that had been set. It also showed the top ten waste items, and what the collective staff needed to do to bring down the waste amount. Generally it involved portion control. Another option might be, as many have said already, to prep less. If your worried about running out, then maybe try getting some under ripe fruits and do a few portions? Not really sure if it would work, but I would guess that if you had that as a standby then the fruit wouldn't go bad and you could use that at the end of the shift if you ran out? we used to get under ripe avacado on wed. to be used fri. because of the delivery schedule and leave them on the shelf so by friday they would be nice and soft. I'm not sure if it was good practice, or if it would work for you, but until you can get your prep. cut down and perfected it might be a good standby. Of course, you would leave the fruits whole and only break the down if you knew you would be running low. 

The eggs under the heat lamp can be solved by trying to get better timing. In the steak we do, when the pass is running a little slower than the steaks are cooking, the grill cook holds off on firing the rare steaks longer than normal so that they don't have that issue. It generally means that the pass will have everything on the plate and ready to roll when the steak comes off the grill so it's not sitting waiting for garnish and what not. Not really sure if it would work for you, but it's an idea.

As far as tracking waste, anything tossed during prep should be documented. Give this task to your staff to do, instead of making them ask you. This will take the big brother element out of it and still give you the result. You can always ask someone why they threw out something and re-train them if they shouldn't be throwing that item out.

Big problem I have with waste control is trying to stretch product. Some employers want you to eliminate waste so much they are willing to sacrifice food quality.

As far as a system for tracking the actual waste...

I'm going to assume you have a pretty good system for knowing your inventory, and your menu cost so...

If you know how many eggs you ordered, and you know how many were sold, you should be able to figure out how many went into the trash, for whatever reason, or ended up being over portioned in the case of scrambled eggs. Try that method. Not really sure how effective it will be, but in theory it should work. If you have your staff keep track of what they toss, and you compare product in with product out, you should have a pretty good idea of where your waste is generated.  

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 

I talked to the owner who raised the waste issue today just because I wanted to get his take on things.  I heard about the waste issue from the KM and it was him who wanted he or I to approve all waste.   The idea of putting the waste on each station will definitely give each cook an idea as to how they can cut their waste and they will really see just what they are wasting each shift.

 

It is the fruit station we need to work with the most on this and I started by working with our main fruiter today on what can be done right now or what can wait based on business.  I am on fruits tomorrow and I know going in that I have enough fruit cups to start my day and prep to support any more but I am going to have to assemble fruit cups first thing. From there I can see what I need to do to reach my par level of 150 for Saturday.  We need to start to teach them that they need to assemble cups first before they prep for the next day we will be able to save alot of waste that way in that all prep will be used before any new prep is started. 

 

I do eggs on the weekend.. from the beginning when we opened I was trained on egg station so I have a good knowlege of the network standards for eggs as well as the random things that just happen with eggs.  We have one cook who can handle eggs well so when either the KM or I are off on a weekend day we put him on eggs and when he is there we know we have to help him and premix his omelettes for him but that's fine. 

 

Still on eggs, we do our scrambled to order so there's no over-portioning involved.  All of our egg dishes are two eggs and I know what two scrambled eggs look like so if I have on my board six orders of scrambled eggs I will mix them and do them all at once but portion them onto the plates accordingly.  The KM and our backup egg guy both do the same when they are on eggs. 

 

Thank you all for your input.. it's been a great help and it's also much appreciated!

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post #16 of 17

I am suprised to see no one has posted the old tried and true giant tarp behind the kitchen where you dump and sort all the trash everyday until the level of waste is where you want it. You sort the waste into bins and regular trash into the others, gives you a good perspective.

Also it is a good way to get dishwashers to not throw away flatware. Maybe I am old school but that is how it was done back in the day.

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post #17 of 17

Chef Greg ..Most popular soup where a chiffonade of lettuce is used is Puree of Green Pea St. Germaine, and Bisque of Tomato, have seen it in modern day in a taco soup  with shredded cheddar and a dollop of sour cream.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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