07 | Aug | 19

Richard Johnson

What A Waste!!

For anyone running their own street food business, food waste should be an anathema. You put your heart and soul into sourcing ingredients for a dish, use all of your culinary skills to create it and with what’s left of your time you employ your brain to market it so that customers will actually come and buy it. Why on earth would you want even the merest morsel to end up anywhere but in the belly of a satisfied customer?

The real world means that food waste is a reality. Fortunately, using a bit of ingenuity, insider knowledge and nous, it’s possible to avoid much of it and boy do we need to. As well as costing foodservice operators not much shy of £1 billion a year, it’s also an environment wrecker. If it were a country, food waste would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases – behind only China and the US.

At the finals of the 2019 BSFA, aside from choosing our British champions to take on the rest of Europe, we will be presenting the inaugural award for the Most Sustainable Trader – sponsored by Hellmann’s. And judged by the the Sustainable Restaurant Association. At the start of 2019 the SRA published a report on the state of sustainability in the foodservice sector. Here are some of their handy tips, gleaned from a decade of collaboration with chefs and kitchen teams of all shapes and sizes.

1. Design waste out of the menu
As a street food business, the likelihood is you’re running a limited menu which gives you a head start of most restaurants and pubs for example. Are you embracing a nose to tail and root to fruit approach? If your dishes are meaty, have you considered using some less fashionable cuts like The Roadery does? They’re cheaper, have novelty appeal and ensure all the animal is eaten. And if you’re looking for a saucy solution, try transforming gluts of fruits and veg into pickles and chutneys like those kings of condiments, Rubies in the Rubble.
2. What’s good for today can be better tomorrow
Unpredictable footfall can be serious food waster. Who wants limp lettuce or tired tomatoes. Follow the lead of Gourmet Goat and create salads that taste just as good or even better the following day. And don’t forget your food waste friend, the freezer.
3. Food Alchemy
Big name chefs like Skye Gyngell of Spring and Nicholas Balfe of Salon may seem far removed from a food truck. But their food waste busting skills – like turning leftover coffee milk into labneh and yoghurt and using excess veg to make pickles are definitely transferable.
4. Love those leftovers
If as the end of the day approaches one of your dishes isn’t selling as well as the rest, make a noise about it and even consider giving it a little price promotion. If that doesn’t shift it, consider teaming up with one of the tech platforms like Karma, Olio or Too Good to Go, helping get your wares in front of a new audience, keep food out of the bin and still make a return on it. We’ve been working with Eighth Plate and NCASS to repurpose any food waste at the heats of the 2019 British Street Food Awards supported by Hellmann’s.
5. If all else fails…
At the very least be sure to separate your food waste from the rest of your rubbish and ensure it’s either composted or goes for anaerobic digestion.

If you’re already taking steps towards becoming a dedicated food waste warrior, feeding customers not dustbins, then enter the Most Sustainable Trader Award, sponsored by Hellman’s, and tell us all about it.