At Atalian Servest we are proud to provide nutritious, contemporary and exciting catering services within the Business and Industry (B&I) sector. In recent years there has been a migration from ‘work canteen’ to ‘staff restaurant’ placing real value on the quality of food served. This is particularly important within a corporate setting as food not only has the power to fulfil hunger but to motivate, engage and ultimately improve overall productivity of the workforce.
It is imperative that we accommodate for varying tastes and dietary requirements of customers. For example, according to survey results veganism in the UK has quadrupled between 2014 and 2018, and as of 2019 1% of the entire UK population are vegan.
We have developed a number of initiatives which have been innovative, authentic and beautifully created, including the Wrap Shack and Ruby Railway allowing customers to try new flavours. However, as in any sector there are challenges, we must be able to maintain a quality offering to effect customer behaviour, driving them to stay in-house rather than heading elsewhere, while still making a profit.
One of the main challenges is food waste, head count for each service can vary drastically making the planning process for the amount of food required extremely challenging. Excessive food waste not only has a detrimental effect on the environment, but it is also very costly. With this in mind, we started by asking three key questions:
- Are we using 100% of the product we buy?
Research has found that around 20% of food purchased is thrown straight into the bin, including broccoli stalks, bread crusts, chickpea brine and butternut squash seeds. Although we pay 100% for food, it’s very rare that 100% is used.
- Are we looking after our produce correctly?
Making changes to food storage can make a significant difference to the shelf life. This then helps maintain quality and minimise wastage.
- Are we working with the seasons?
Educating the client on the necessity of only serving food, which is in season in imperative. By doing so, we not only reduce our carbon footprint, but cut costs and ensure all food is full of flavour.
Asking these questions highlighted the importance of reducing our waste, which saw the Wasteline initiative being introduced. It involves products that would usually go to waste being used to create delicious and nutritious dishes. From ice cream made using breakfast leftovers such as toast and bananas to dishes such as potato gnocchi with herby lemon pesto and plaice fillets inspired by left over jacket potatoes.
The Wasteline initiative has become one of the central pillars of our in-house training programmes. On the face of it, it is a collection of simple and delicious recipes that makes use of products that have all too often been discarded in the past but, it is much more. Although it cannot be considered a ‘silver bullet’ to all environmental challenges we face, it certainly helps in tackling the unconscionably high food wastage across the catering division and has changed the thought processes of many of our colleagues. It has made many of us think much more carefully about menu planning, purchasing and production.