City of Sydney will provide free training to 30 businesses on reducing food waste

Apply now for the Love Food Sydney program to help both your restaurant and the environment. By Time Out in association with City of Sydney

Does the amount of food waste produced by your business bother you? It does Danielle Alvarez, executive chef of Fred’s in Paddington. Earlier in her career Alvarez worked at Chez Panisse in San Francisco, a world-famous restaurant with a forward-thinking approach to waste management.

“Things that involved heaps of packaging, we just didn't buy,” Alvarez recalls. “Fruits and vegetables were collected from farms in special [reusable] crates.” Waste was cycled back to the farms in a closed-loop system. “And those farms were then turning that into beautiful compost that was fertilising the vegetables that we were then getting in the restaurant. 

“I was just surprised when I got here,” the Florida-born chef says, “that virtually none of that was happening in Sydney.”

For 30 businesses in the Sydney local government area, that’s all about to change. The City (in partnership with the NSW Government’s Love Food Hate Waste program) is inviting restaurants, cafés and pubs to sign up for the Love Food Sydney initiative of free training in food waste prevention.

The training will be by Edge Environment, an international company with a strong track record of sustainability leadership. The process involves a two-hour kick-off meeting with senior staff followed by a two-hour on-site training workshop with all staff to launch a food waste review. Edge will then provide phone support over an implementation phase of 6-8 weeks.

NSW households and businesses throw away more than $10 billion worth of edible food each year, and the methane produced by decomposing food waste contributes to climate change. But the benefits of minimising food waste go beyond the environmental, Alvarez says. “From an economics perspective, you can turn something that you might have just thrown away into dollars for a restaurant that already struggles with very slim margins.”

As an example, Alvarez is putting duck on her menu soon and is plotting out how to use the entire bird, not just the legs and breast. “You can use the frames to make a beautiful sauce, you can use the neck to make sausages, there's so much excess fat that you can render that down to confit your legs – every bit has a purpose.” 

Alvarez, who was Time Out Sydney’s Chef of the Year for 2017, can’t wait for the training, which will be rolled out across Merivale’s entire stable of venues. “It's been something on my mind for a very long time,” she says. “I really am super-thrilled that the city has these resources available to businesses at no cost to help us in this arena. Because it's kind of the thing that often gets put into the too hard basket, but if you have free support to help you find solutions, I think we can get it done.”

Book your spot by getting in touch with Emily Keegan on EKeegan@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au or call 02 9265 9030. Participants must be from the City of Sydney local government area and will be chosen on a first-come basis. The program finishes in September 2021.

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