Any approach to make kitchens more environmentally friendly needs to focus on engagement from both the top down and the bottom up, according to three industry experts.
Speaking in a panel discussion on the topic of sustainable kitchens at Commercial Kitchen, Martyn Clover, head of food at Tortilla, Oliver Rosevear, head of environment at Costa Coffee and James Taylor, the head of overheads purchasing at The Restaurant Group, agreed that everyone from stakeholders to kitchen staff needs to be engaged with the process in order for reductions in energy waste to be made.
Mr Taylor claimed that it is vital to engage stakeholders, and that to do so it was important to “speak in their language.”
He said: “You’ve got to engage all of the stakeholders and find out what they’re interested in. Are they incentivised by money, are they incentivised by the environmental impact and the PR angle of that? Then you can build some kind of guidance.”
Based on this guidance, Mr Taylor says, it can become easier to persuade stakeholders to adopt more sustainable approaches. For example, by focusing on the amount of chef hours that are likely to be saved by saving energy, and talking about the positives in terms of sales, profit and labour targets, they are more likely to take note.
“It’s no good to turn a light off, and them not realising what impact that actually has. Because they won’t carry on doing it if they don’t see the benefits of it,” he said.
“I think a really important part of sustainability is that storytelling element, saying ‘this is why we’re doing it’ rather than just ‘this is what we want you to do'”
Mr Rosevear highlighted the importance of engaging across teams, and of noting that different members of the team might have different motivations. And he claimed that one way of ensuring engagement across staff is to focus on more modern methods of training.
“One of the things we’ve started to move towards is more online training as well as more video based training,” he said, noting that in the past the company had used booklets that ended up “being used as doorstops” and were not very helpful in terms of engaging staff with the sustainability issue.
He claimed, “I think a really important part of sustainability is that storytelling element, saying ‘this is why we’re doing it’ rather than just ‘this is what we want you to do.’”
Mr Clover claimed that he believed that at the store level a lot of employees were already engaged with environmental issues and that they did not need to be persuaded about the importance of sustainability, and that the main issue was ensuring they were equipped with the right tools.
“As long as you’re engaging with them, giving them the tools to be able to do it and not expecting them to be able to just solve every issue, I’ve not really seen any barriers to try and overcome -certainly with the guys that I need to do the jobs,” he said. “It’s just making sure that it’s coming from the top down and the bottom up so that any blockages gets cleared along the way.
All three panel members concluded that this engagement across all levels was the most effective way of reducing energy waste.
The discussion was part of Commercial kitchen 2019, and was chaired by Clare Clark, development manager at Soil Association.