Managing a busy buffet restaurant takes skill, organization and creativity. What you may not think of when you shimmy up to the buffet table is how hard the staff work to reduce food waste. Not only is wasted food a business cost, but it is an environmental nightmare.
At the Market Buffet BBQ & Smokehouse in Barrie, purchasing, food preparation, and even the size and way food is presented is taken into consideration. At the procurement level, the volume at the Market Buffet BBQ & Smokehouse allows the restaurant to order pre-trimmed food from facilities that divert peelings appropriately. For example, broccoli crowns are purchased and potatoes are purchased already peeled. This reduces transportation costs, preparation time at the restaurant, and the need for waste disposal at the restaurant level. Plate sizes are chosen to accommodate typical serving sizes (which reduces the volume of food taken and not eaten). When the kitchen fills serving pans at the end of the day, they do not fill them to the brim to avoid large amounts of food going to waste. So, the next time you see a half empty pan at the end of the day, don’t assume the food is not fresh.
Other creative efforts that go on behind the scenes to ensure customers get to enjoy fresh items while minimizing waste include alternative ways to present desserts. Consider for example, that when customers help themselves to a slice of pie from large dish, they often leave behind disturbed pie that can’t really be served as a slice—this then ends up in the garbage. At the Market Buffet BBQ & Smokehouse, they have begun to put individual slices on plates to eliminate this unnecessary waste. Another example is instead of offering full cakes (for which end slices may be too small and end up in the garbage, or side pieces go a little stale if they are not served right away) cupcake-size replicas of the same cakes are offered—providing a fresh bite for every customer. Cupcakes are also a more typical serving size and customers usually eat the whole cupcake. When customers take a slice of cake, they often don’t finish the entire piece. Remember, you can go back for a second if you want more: just eat what you take.
At the Market Buffet BBQ & Smokehouse, other efforts to reduce energy, water use and waste include the use of LED bulbs, energy efficient appliances, programmable thermostats, efficient toilets, light sensors and turning off lights in unoccupied areas during slow times.
Next time you visit a foodservice organization, keep in mind that some of the changes you may see actually represent an effort to reduce waste, with the spin-off benefit of reducing the footprint on the natural environment.
About The Author – Aileen MacMillan holds an Honours Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree from the University of Waterloo, and has worked as an independent consultant on environmental projects related to waste management, water quality protection, and environmental education. She has many years of experience working in small business and working collaboratively with teams and individual stakeholders.