A great way to improve your restaurant’s bottom line while cutting waste is by sourcing ingredients in a sustainable manner. Obtaining your ingredients more directly—as well as upcycling excess food scraps—can bring many benefits to your restaurant, including:
- saving costs by eliminating the stages between the source and your kitchen
- reducing waste using ingredient scraps that you already have on hand
- attracting guests who value environmentally conscious business decisions
- minimizing the amount of food waste going into landfills
- supporting local farmers and their communities
You likely already practice some sustainable sourcing tactics. Here are four additional ideas.
1. Herb Garden
Lower your purchasing costs while increasing freshness on the menu with your own herb garden. If you have space on your property or even inside your kitchen, consider growing a small assortment of greenery. With immediate access to fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme and basil, you can decrease the time from “harvest” to table from days to just hours—or for a simple garnish, mere minutes.
2. Bone and Vegetable Broth
Though nose-to-tail cooking has been practiced for thousands of years, chefs still praise this resourceful tradition in today’s commercial kitchens. Cooking bone broth is a great example. Sterling Silver® Signature Chef Sera Cuni prepares her Braised Short Ribs using stock cooked from the bones of her previous batch of short ribs. Chefs also use vegetable scraps—including carrot tops, celery leaves and onion peels—to make vegetable stock from scratch.
3. Tree Sap
Collecting and processing sap directly from trees gives you immediate access to an ingredient for a tenderloin glaze or a maple-bourbon Manhattan syrup. Chefs can partner with local tree farmers to source sap from maple trees, birch trees and other species.
The sweetness of honey is an element that can be used in everything from marinades to dressings to desserts. One option for directly sourcing honey is to welcome a bee colony into a synthetic hive on your own property. You can also purchase space from a local beekeeper who can help tend to the ingredient-producing insects.