Friday the 16th of October marks World Food Day – a global initiative that shines a spotlight on world hunger and food waste. In Australia, around one fifth of fresh produce is lost or wasted and the food service sector represents a significant chunk of that figure.

Hospitality recently caught up with Justine Schofield to discuss ways that chefs can reduce waste in the kitchen and redistribute leftover produce to those that need it.        

What kind of initiatives have you incorporated into your kitchens to reduce waste?

When I’m getting ready for either one or a few catering jobs at a time, I ensure that I plan smart. I write many lists to ensure that before I pick up the phone to order what I need, that I've worked out the exact amount of produce that I need for the job. These days I am very conscious of not only how much money can be wasted if I over order, but I’m starting to become more and more conscious that there are far too many people out there that go without food every single day.

I’m also getting involved with Glad for World Food Day to raise money for international charity, Free The Children, to help fight world hunger.

What are some key mistakes that chefs make in the kitchen that tend to result in unnecessary food waste?

  • Vegetable trimming being thrown in the bin, where they could actually make good use in stocks.
  • Meat trimming can be made into mince instead of thrown away.
  • I use my over ripe fruit to make great sorbets.
  • Getting more creative with staff meals by using produce that is not as fresh for the paying customers but still perfectly fine and using products that may be getting closer to “used by date” to create a meal for your employees.
  • Finding a local charity that collects unwanted food where they turn in to meal for hungry, less fortunate people.

What tips do you have for chefs in terms of the effective storage and handling of food?

What would we do without a food vacuum sealer machine?! Oxygen is one of the main reasons food spoils and therefore it is wasted but by extracting the oxygen and sealing the food, whether it be meat, fish, cheese etc., it will last longer and stay fresh.

Herbs wrapped in clean moist chux or paper towel will ensure they last a much longer time. Other basic effective storage practices (that you learn when you first start to cook) is dating everything and controlling temperature in the cool rooms, freezers and dry store.

What are your core tips for waste reduction in the kitchen?

  • Get creative with your menu to minimise wastage. If you put your mind to it there are so many ways you can get the most out of your produce to not only stop waste, but saves money and the most import have demonstrates respect to those who are really struggling to find food.
  • Bring the conversation to the table like we are doing here. The more we talk about food wastage and stopping hunger the proactive and conscious we will become of our actions.
  • Plan, plan, plan! Having list and being organised will prevent you from over ordering produce.

To learn more about World Food Day, click here.

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