“In our industry, ‘being sustainable’ is more than an expectation. It is taken as given. However, to truly embed it in the ways of working, the concept has to be introduced and practiced at grass roots level.”
Susan Gregory, Head of Food at Nestlé Professional, talks Toque d’Or, training and embedding sustainability into kitchen practices...
Sustainability…a word that has arguably become something of a fashion statement in our industry…
But how can we, as an industry, stand up and ensure it is more than just a hollow word? How can we make sure that action is being taken, from the bottom up, to instil sustainable practices in restaurants and catering outlets across the country?
Looking to the next generation of movers and shakers has got to be a good place to start…
The essence of the Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or competition is about sustaining and supporting talent, while also promoting the opportunity the hospitality industry offers as a career. The implications of this are more social than environmental, but one of our objectives this year was to highlight that the stewardship of our community and ecology are inextricably linked.
At the Grand Finals of this year’s competition, Cyrus Todiwala, TV personality and chef patron of Café Spice Namasté, spoke to the student contestants about their responsibility, as chefs, to ensure that sustainable practices are followed in the kitchen.
He said: "You are the future of this country, think of it first and foremost as your responsibility… How are you, as a chef, going to make sure that sustainability becomes more than just a fashion statement?”
Simon Smith from Aubrey Allen went on to talk to the students about the ‘waste not’ philosophy behind ‘nose to tail’ cooking, and to demonstrate butchery techniques:
"There is a lack of education about full carcass utilisation in today's kitchens … We see ourselves as innovators and are keen to share our knowledge and skills."
For young chefs, learning about sustainable eating is crucial. From turning taps off to responsible menu planning, sustainability is something that must be engrained into every element of day to day kitchen operations.
Following Todiwala’s talk and Smith’s demonstration, the contestants were tasked, in one hour, to design a menu with sustainability at its core. They were encouraged to think ‘outside the box’ and were asked to demonstrate their thinking to the judges in terms of community, food waste reduction, and supply chain efficiency.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to education…
If we, as an industry, can work together to train the next generation of young chefs and catering managers to think and eat sustainably, then we may be in with a shot of making our industry more sustainable for generations to come.
- As a business, Nestlé Professional works with operators and chefs on a daily basis to encourage more sustainable ways of working.
- Food waste is one part of the picture. We have teamed up with Specialist Waste Recycling (SWR) to develop a free online Waste Management course (available from our website - www.nestleprofessional.co.uk), a practical tool to help chefs and operators have a positive impact on their waste.
- We are also taking steps to reduce water wastage, creating an educational biodiversity site, engaging school children in environmental activities and developing an industry wide online Water Management course in association with the Food & Drink Federation (visit www.nestleprofessional.co.uk to access the course).
- In 2010, we launched the NESCAFÉ Plan, which will provide 220 million coffee plantlets by 2020 and invest £213m to help those involved across the entire supply chain to satisfy the increased demand for good quality coffee.
- Our recent global Cocoa Plan represents a £65 million investment to help address social, economic and environmental issues cocoa farming communities are facing around the world. Whilst, here in the UK, we have committed to using 100% certified cocoa by the end of 2015.