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Sustainability in 2017

Posted On: December 27, 2016 by ClubProcure in: Club Grub - Podcast VGM Club

Sustainability in 2017

Recently VGM Club & Club Cents had a great conversation with Chef Ed Brown on sustainability in the food industry. Chef Ed Brown is an author, a frequent guest on NBC's Today Show, CBS's morning show and the Food Network. He is also the VP Chef Innovator at Restaurant Associates.

In a 30 minute conversation with host Cam Schultz, Chef Ed offered many great insights into sustainability in the club kitchen.

Now, you talk about one single product, can you give our listeners and myself a little bit of insight on your take on cross-utilization? Not only the cross-utilization in your menu, or in different dishes, but also from coming from your procurement background?

Ed: "Well first I am going to back up and make the case to buy the better product. Acknowledging they do cost more. I am not going to put it on anyone to say 'charge more, make less money, but you just have to buy the best stuff.' Nope. I actually have a solution, and it starts with (which happens to be better for the planet) waste. So much food is wasted, I think it is proven that in the retail world, approximately 40% of all food purchased in the retail world ends up in the garbage.

And so, I'm sure it's much lower in the wholesale world because we understand what we need, but we also buy at much bigger volumes. So, while the percentage may be lower, the overall waste is still an enormous amount of food. One of the easiest ways to eliminate waste (and there are obviously better-utilization, cross-utilization, etc.) is to simply order less food. How simple does that sound?

I made an example based off an experience I had many years ago of a restaurant that would buy six cases of limes for the bar everyday. Everyday, six cases came in, went to the bartender - we never saw them again. I guess you could say 'they are using all six cases a day.' So I said to the purchasing agent, 'start ordering five cases a day and see what happens.'

You can see where this story is going. Three weeks later we were ordering one and a half cases a day. Why? You give them 6 cases, they use six cases! They cut all the limes, and they either use them or they don't, but if they don't they end up in the garbage.

We were basically buying fruit to cut it up, and throw more than half of it away. I can make that example for anything, that anybody is doing anywhere! When your club orders a big bag of carrots, and you peel them, how much does the person that really doesn't have a concern about waste; how much of that tip is cut off? How much of that root end is cut off? And by the way, what is wrong with either of those ends? It's all carrot! In the case of farm carrots, why are they being peeled? They should be scrubbed and removed of all soil or excess, but the flavor and nutrition is what you are scrapping off..."

To listen to the entire podcast - click here.

How can this thought process lead to a more affordable, and sustainable dish for your patrons?

As a thought exercise, we put the ideas Chef Ed brings forth to a popular menu item - pasta. The middle of winter is the perfect time for comfort foods like this Spicy Linguine with Halibut recipe. (Found on Food & Wine)

This recipe calls for items like 1 lb of white fish fillet (Cod or Halibut). How much of the fish is your club making use of? Can some of it be used for another dish? What about the chopped, minced and crushed vegetables like garlic, red chiles, onions and tomatoes? How is your staff cutting these up? How much of each end of the onion is removed?

Understanding sustainability and how it can reduce food waste, and in turn, needing to purchase less will add to your club's bottom line. Add these practices to your VGM Club membership, where items like the linguine for your Spicy Linguine with Halibut recipe receives special pricing and rebates through your preferred distributor, and suddenly your club is offering the best possible dish at a lower cost to your club. For more information on how to join the VGM Club Food & Beverage Program or to learn other ways to help save your club money, contact your VGM Club rep.