Waste Not, Want Not: Saving Your Scraps
Restaurants are already operating on a small margin of profit, and rubbing two nickels together to make a quarter can become more difficult as your business grows and you’re searching for more ways to save your pennies. Reevaluating your dishes for efficiency requires a record of ingredients used versus ingredients ordered as well as the waste products created. While some waste simply can’t be cut out, unserved bread, unused veggies, and other scraps can be utilized to keep your 3-5% margin of profit from getting thrown out with the trash! While customer leftovers are truly meant for the compost pile, chefs who make the most out of their scraps can retain more of your profits while keeping your customers satisfied.
Knowing the difference between what is genuinely trash and what can be utilized is a quality that many chefs find innate. Resourceful chefs are a commodity, as they’re able to turn one person’s trash into another person’s treasure, so to speak! "A good chef has as little leftovers as possible, but they are an unavoidable casualty of the business," says Chris D'Eletto, the chef and owner of Jack's Café in Westwood. If you’re looking for ways to cut out some scraps, here are a few pointers from the pros:
Unused Chicken: Sure, rotisserie chicken makes for beautiful cuts of breast meat, but what do you do with the tiny scraps left clinging to the bones? At the end of the night, have one of your employees ‘pick the chickens’ for those tiny morsels and turn it into a gourmet dill chicken salad!
Tomato Tips: Sliced tomatoes are great for burger fixin’s and basil/tomato salad, but those tips that are leftover can be utilized as well. Throw them in a processor or simply slice and dice them for a fresh garden salsa.
Cheese Trimmings: Slices of fresh cheese are great for toppings, but those clunky end-pieces are many times discarded with the trash. Instead, throw the leftovers into your mac and cheese to get the most bang for your buck!
Bones: Once you’ve scoured the bones of your meats, be sure to utilize them as stock for your soups! Simply simmer bones in water to draw out the fats and flavors of the bone, and allow the water to slowly simmer away, leaving you with a dense, flavor-packed gel.
Meat Bits: Small flakes of fish or ends of beef can all be used as parts of other dishes. For instance, fish cakes or beef pierogies are a great way to turn scrap into scrumptious!
Bread: Leftover bread in your warming drawer at the end of the night can be cubed and baked for fresh, house-made croutons!
At the end of the day, all it takes is a little creativity and resourcefulness to turn scraps into signature dishes. It’s a great way to foster creativity in the kitchen, and who knows what new, award-winning item you’ll come up with next! Best of all, you’re saving your restaurant’s hard-earned money.
E Friedman Associates Inc