very day, thousands upon thousands of
pounds of food go to waste across the
world. According to the U.N. Food &
Agriculture Organization, that amounts
to roughly 1. 3 billion tons of food per
year. Economically speaking, that’s $680
billion. With such staggering statistics, it’s no wonder
why it’s become more and more important that we work
to reduce food waste globally.
The trend toward becoming what are known as zero-waste facilities is not new, though there’s been a greater
push for it in recent years as world-class chefs have
taken different approaches to reducing waste in their
restaurants. Through smart planning, using organic
foods and conserving leftovers, new and innovative
ways to reduce waste are being implemented across the
globe as restaurants and bars become more aware of
the impact each has on the world.
Being proactive about menu planning and how foods
are used is the first step. For chef John Mooney, of
Bidwell in Washington, D.C., that means cultivating his
own rooftop garden and managing whole animals as
opposed to buying specific cuts of meat. Not only does
it save money, but it is also environmentally friendlier.
“If you use the entire animal, you decrease the
amount of carnage impacted on the industry and the
environment,” Mooney says.
Jayson Tang, executive Chinese chef at
JW Marriott Hong Kong, engages in similar practices.
“We work closely with the front-of-house team in order
to better anticipate the amount of food bought for each
day,” he says. Not only do his restaurants use nontraditional cuts of meat, but they also incorporate items that
may have previously gone unused. For Tang’s team, this
means making broth from the bones of meat.
Diners are also more willing to try new things, which
is helping restaurants get creative and efficient with
their menus. “Many chefs are using items from their
heritage and developing those flavors into local dishes.
I recently introduced a pierogi at Whisper Creek Farm:
The Kitchen with a braised short rib and horseradish
sour cream espuma — a take on my background with a
modern twist,” says John Janucik, executive chef at
JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes.
Ryan Lamkin, executive chef at JW Marriott Phoenix
Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, has enacted a similar plan.
“It is rare you will find one single ingredient for only one
dish in one specific area within the resort. We try to give
ourselves avenues to utilize items quickly to ensure we
always have fresh product available,” he says.
There are a few options when food is left over. Aaron
Polsky, the bar manager of Harvard & Stone in Los
Angeles, for example, says his bar ferments or preserves
leftover juices and garnishes to reduce waste.
Many restaurants around the world also work with
organizations to ensure that people in need are
provided with meals. “We donate all excess food to
a local charity, Second Helpings Inc., a community
kitchen that accepts food to prepare nutritious meals
for thousands of hungry children and adults every day,
distributing them free of charge through local service
agencies,” says Michelle Klein, of the JW Marriott
Indianapolis marketing team. In 2017, Klein says, the
hotel donated more than 140,000 pounds of food to
For the food that cannot be given to a charity, chefs like
Janucik have found ways to translate the waste into green
energy. “We’ve been a founding participant with Harvest
Power, a unique food-to-energy plant, which manages a
process called anaerobic digestion. The facility produces
more than 15,547,080 kilowatts of green energy, which
is sold back to the grid to reduce the amount of other
fossil fuel methods needed,” he says.
The practical methods of moving toward zero waste
are not the only way to get there, though. Work needs
to be done to educate consumers (and staff) and change
perceptions across the board. Through their various
initiatives, creative menu planning and moving beyond
the food in innovative ways, chefs around the world,
and especially those in the JW Marriott family, are
trailblazers in this trend and serve as a great example of
the zero-waste movement. [
Was t e N o t The zero-waste movement sees farmers and world-class chefs, including those at JW Marriott hotels, embracing cosmetically imperfect foods—and making them stars of the plate. BY SAMUEL SLAUGHTER
on a rooftop