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Food Surplus from Catering Events: how much food is left over, and how do you manage it?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone!

 

I just have a few questions all professional caterers out there!

 

I understand that when preparing for an event, you always have to prepare an allowance of food beyond the indicated headcount (i.e. if 30 people are said to come, you prepare enough food for 40, etc.). 

 

But how much extra exactly do you prepare, and how do you decide this amount? Do you usually use a percentage over expected headcount, like 20% extra?

 

And after the event, how much clean, unserved, untouched, and still generally palatable food is left over? 

 

I know the answers to these questions can vary depending on the event, but perhaps you guys could give averages? or ranges?

 

If you have answers for specific cases or events, please feel free to share!

 

Food waste frustrates me, and so i'd like to find out how you guys manage it, and what solutions you may be using to manage it?

post #2 of 11

There are a few factors that define how much food to prepare. I assume these events you speak of are buffet service.

Factors like:

time of day,

weather,

children?

All of these affect outcome.

 

How much food to prepare is based on the above information.

 

As far as the unserved, untouched food goes, I know that if it has been out on the buffet it must be disposed of after the event and can not be used. If, however; the food was in a warmer and never made it out to the chaffing dish, it can be safely re-used.

post #3 of 11


20% is far to much. All of my catering life I always figured 5%   Never ran out because night before guest had to give us final guarantee.

As far as leftovers  foods on the actual buffet Chef Ross is correct.

Why take a chance for a few dollars?

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...

Reply
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

thanks for your feedback guys!

 

@Chefross what do you mean though by "can be re-used?" 

 

if it's been stored properly in a chaffing dish though, can it be repacked into microwaveable containers and maybe sold?

 

@chefedb i understand that there are a number of risks associated if the food is improperly stored, or transported, but i'm just thinking about solutions to reduce the food waste... i mean, so much good food goes wasted; if i was hungry or on a tight budget, i wouldn't mind buying a repackaged portion to consume within the day knowing it was still good, more or less.

 

i mean, you guys see all the food that gets thrown out, how do you guys manage it? can it be given to a food bank or something?

post #5 of 11

@Chefross what do you mean though by "can be re-used?" 

 

You may safely consume that which never made it to the chaffing dishes.

 

If you are catering a function for profit then you must adhere to the food safety rules.

These rules state that any food that was on display for consumption can not be used or sold after the function and must be thrown away.

That's why figuring the food cost for buffets includes that in the pricing. The client pays for all the food......period.

 

There is an alternative, that I have experience with.

The caterer provides a disclaimer document  that the client signs which states that any food taken by the client is now their responsibility and the caterer is no longer viable for anything.

 

Here's an example......host wants leftovers they paid for.

Caterer gives them the food.

They put the food in the trunk of their car and go on with their day.

Later that evening they take the food out to reheat, and end up getting ill.

Their fault, their problem,

Caterer is not responsible.

 

You may say this is silly example, but believe me, it happens more than you realize.

post #6 of 11

You must have passed a food handling class---

 

Believe me--make it real clear that 'left overs' are going to be disposed of---as others have mentioned--the unopened trays in the hot box might be safe to leave with the host---but if your thermometer tells you they are not at the correct temperature --then they get trashed also--

 

You are hired to feed the guests---that's it----all 'leftovers' are your responsibility(and property)

 

Ask yourself this---what are the risks and rewards for leaving behind food that has been on hold for hours?

 

Is your insurance paid?

 

Do you like the idea of seeing your name in the newspapers attached to a food poisoning case?

 

Remember--you are financially responsible if someone gets sick---------why risk it?

post #7 of 11
Quote:
You may say this is silly example, but believe me, it happens more than you realize.
Quote:
Ask yourself this---what are the risks and rewards for leaving behind food that has been on hold for hours?

I did a school sports function for 230 once, this particular set up had me cooking just outside the gym, with
the service buffet just inside an ante room (trophy display cases etc, while all the seating was inside the
gym--out of site of grlil or service. Had food left over, and the event runner had access to Styrofoam containers....
"Can we please have some "go" boxes, some of the teachers didn't make it here and they worked hard on this
blah blah." Upon assuring me it would all go straight into a fridge in the cafeteria, we made her some boxes up,
maybe 7 or 8 , then proceeded to clean up. After about 40 mins (and this was in June in so calif) I walked into
the gym and found containers spread out on peoples chairs, up on the bleachers etc. with
names on them. I had my helper start collecting them for the trash. But we didn't get them all....
And that wasn't the last client who lied to me either.....
post #8 of 11

If you think it is safe to reuse keep it and eat it.  Otherwise throw the food away.

post #9 of 11

Hey All,

 

My company, LocalTableCo, has been working on trying to solve this problem. We are currently a staff, and scheduling software for catering companies small to large. Our goal is to use technology to distribute the food that is left over at an event, and get it to homeless shelters, only as long as it is safe, and stable.

 

Our goal is to utilize the likes of Uber, and other transportation agencies to partner with getting the food safely to a refrigeration system quickly.

 

We have found that through out the city there are thousands of pounds of food thrown out each night from several events. 

 

If anyone has more information, or has done this sort of service on a legal, and state scale please direct message me. You can reach me on here, or at the website, www.LocalTable.co

 

Cheers,

 

Johnny

post #10 of 11


Again Chef Ross nailed it. Another thing or fact to note re. food banks, if you give them food and they get sick, you are libel. In fact in some states if you throw food in dumpster and a homeless person should take and eat it and get sick  YOU are libel. Check your respective state and county laws.    It's a lawyers world.

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...

Reply

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...

Reply
post #11 of 11

Hypothetical:

 

"Local homeless man becomes millionaire following lawsuit in "dumpster poisoning"  

case, buys personal jet, resides in Tahiti."

 

Yep, I can easily imagine that, especially in California.

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