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Five Chefs Fighting Food Waste

Natalya Ares, Hazel Technologies
July 14, 2016 1:25 pm CST

In the fight against food waste, chefs and restaurateurs have emerged as a new and particularly loud voice. Although the methods they use to shed light on the issue vary from chef to chef, one thing is certain: chefs as a group generally recognize that a lot of food is wasted in the restaurant industry and they have the power to alter the public’s relationship with what they eat. The following five chefs are have made a name for themselves in this fight, targeting groups ranging from the US government to fast food consumers to home cooks.

1. Tom Colicchio

Chef Tom Colicchio

Chef Colicchio is widely recognized from his role on the Bravo reality show Top Chef, where he has been a judge for all 13 seasons and is expected to be a judge in the coming fall season. Colicchio’s list of accomplishments ranges from co-founding the Gramercy Tavern in New York City, being one of the co-founders of Food Policy Action, and being a five-time recipient of the James Beard Foundation Award.

In May of 2016, Colicchio led a group of celebrity chefs on Capitol Hill to address the House Agriculture Committee about food waste in hopes of, “[raising the level] of consciousness about how much food is being wasted along the chain,” which was followed by a roundtable discussion with chefs in the White House. “Food waste is a more that $200 billion dollar problem in America. It hurts the economy, our environment, and our people,” said the chef.

2. Massimo Battuta

Chef Massimo Battuta

Chef Massimo Bottura is an Italian restaurateur and the chef patron of the three-Michelin star restaurant, Osteria Francescana. The restaurant, based in Modena, Italy, has been listed as one of top five restaurants in the world since 2010 and has received a wide variety of other awards and commendations.

In October of 2015, Bottura launched his food waste reduction campaign at Expo Milan through opening Refettorio Abrosiano-a soup kitchen in Milan that used 15 tons of discarded food from the Expo itself to provide meals to the homeless and to refugees. In May, Bottura expanded this project to Montreal. “We try to involve all the best chefs in the world, to get together with them, share these ideas, and build the future by fighting waste,” said Bottura. He now sets his sights on opening a similar soup kitchen at the Olympic Games In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

3. Dan Barber

Chef Dan Barber

Dan Barber is a chef and co-owner at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York. In 2002, Food and Wine Magazine named barber one of America’s best new chefs. He has also received numerous awards from the James Beard Foundation including the 2009 award for Outstanding Chef. In the same year, he was also included on Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people. Everything served at Blue Hill is sourced from the surrounding fields and pastures and customers are not given menus. Instead, they are offered a “multi-taste” featuring the best offerings of the fields and local markets.

Barber is also responsible for the pop-up restaurant, WastED, which cooks fish bones, bruised veggies, stale bread, and other scraps into dishes for $15 a plate. WastED is meant to not only challenge chefs to reconsider what scraps are in the kitchen and challenge consumers to reconsider why we value attractive food over ugly food if it tastes the same.

4. Roy Choi

Chef Roy Choi

Roy Choi is a Korean American chef out of Southern California, famous for creating the gourmet Korean food truck, Kogi. He is also considered one of the founders of the food truck movement. In 2010, Choi was named one of the best new chefs by Food and Wine Magazine. Choi’s ultimate goal is considered to be bringing quality, low priced food to urban areas and reducing wasted food. “We can change fast food because we are chefs,” said Choi.

In 2015, he and his partner Dan Patterson embarked on a mission to open a new fast food chain called Loco’l in San Francisco. Choi believes that they will be able to set low prices on their food by wasting less of it. Many large chains are infamous for waste because of large portion sizes, standardized menu options, and questionable quality control standards. Loco’l plans to find ways to reuse scraps that are normally trashed and to design their recipes to use locally sourced ingredients. “Waste is the cornerstone of Loco’l…in a way, it’s the only way we can make this crazy thing happen.”

5. Steven Satterfield

Chef Steven Satterfield

Chef Satterfield runs Miller Union, a restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia and participates in the Zero Waste Zones program. Zero Waste Zones was launched in February 2009 to help business divert their waste away from landfills. In 2013, the National Restaurant Association acquired the program and began to include energy and water in their considerations of waste.

According to Satterfield, at Miller Union, they focus on the prep of the food: “With greens, for example, we save the leaves, stems, and roots - we’re paying for them, so it makes sense to use them…while a lot of what is thought of as waste may be edible, it’s not always a good fit for our menu, so our chefs come up with creative ways to re-purpose items for family meals.” His book, Root to Leaf, follows this philosophy, encouraging home cooks to use whole vegetables and focus on using whatever is in season.

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