National nonprofit Chefs Collaborative, founded by influential chefs including Alice Waters, Rick Bayless, and Mary Sue Milliken, announced its new What Waste initiative following the organization’s 8th Annual Chef Summit in Atlanta September 9-11.

Built upon its track record of driving change in the food system toward sustainability and challenging others to embrace our role in minimizing food waste, Chefs Collaborative seeks to transform the conversation about food waste from problem to solutions. In partnership with the new documentary film WASTED! The Story of Food Waste and the Whole Crop Harvest research project at North Carolina State University (NCSU), Chefs Collaborative members will host and partake in a series of national events, film screenings, collaborative dinners, a social media campaign and critical research and education to accelerate change in building a better food system through food loss and food waste minimization.

“What Waste is our call-to-action in reframing the food waste conversation from problem to solution as chefs lead by example in demonstrating what is possible,” says Chefs Collaborative executive director Holly Haddad. “We look forward to continuing our collaborative work with the farmers and fishermen/women who produce our food, the chefs who champion sustainability in their daily operations, the organizations transforming what we think of as surplus or waste into productive uses, and all eaters who are eager to learn how they can play a critical part.”

WASTED! The Story of Food Waste is a feature-length documentary from chef, author and Emmy Awardwinning executive producer Anthony Bourdain and Emmy Award-winning directors of The Mind of a Chef Anna Chai and Nary Kye. “This is an important and informative film and a project I’m proud to be part of,” says Bourdain. “Chefs have been at the cutting edge of efforts to contend responsibly with the problem of food waste, perhaps because they, more than others, are painfully aware of the egregious volume of perfectly usable, nutritious food that could otherwise feed people in need, being thrown out in our restaurants.”

With NCSU’s Whole Crop Harvest program, Chefs Collaborative will engage in a two-year research and education project focused on working with farmers and others downstream in the supply chain to combat produce loss on the farm. Rebecca Dunning, project lead and research assistant professor at NCSU, describes the collaboration: “The Whole Crop Harvest project team at NCSU is pleased to have Chefs Collaborative as a partner in working across the chain, from farm to food service, to use more of the fruits and vegetables left in the field or packing house because of shape or surface scarring, or simple oversupply in the marketplace,” says Dunning. “Our goal is to make more efficient use of the natural resources and purchased inputs the farmer already has invested in the crop.”

These new partnerships launch fresh on the heels of the 8th Annual Chefs Collaborative Summit where minimizing food loss and food waste was integrated throughout.

A lamb breakdown demonstration featuring James Beard Award-winning butcher and author Adam Danforth highlighted underutilized yet delicious cuts of lamb, while James Beard Award-winning chef of Miller Union and cookbook author Steven Satterfield led an intimate workshop in his kitchen at Miller Union demonstrating how food loss and waste can be minimized from purchasing decisions, documentation, preparation, service and preservation.

The “Greener Fields Together” farm visit and workshop integrated research, education and demonstration in working with produce farmers from crop planning to preservation. With the Summit’s closing lunch cancelled due to Tropical Storm Irma, some lunch ingredients were incorporated into dinner the evening before and the balance donated to Second Harvest Atlanta, a non-profit food rescue organization dedicated to fighting food insecurity and food waste in metro Atlanta.

Compost Wheels, an Atlanta-based composting service, generously composted scraps from foodservice throughout the conference to be delivered to produce farms in the area.

Industry News, Sustainability