Food Trucks are the ultimate “pop up” upstarts, with their expansive ranges between classic and trendy. Roy Choi, who New Yorker writer Lauren Markem calls “the godfather of the foodtruck movement” wants to do more than serve great, locally sourced food at his new venture Loco’l’s. His “fast food” restaurant concept located in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, will be inspired by the goal of working toward a waste free kitchen. In order to keep the costs down in what is a notoriously wasteful segment of the restaurant market, Choi is going lean using a software that helps create a more sustainable kitchen.
In tapping into waste, Choi and Patterson hope to marry fiscal prudence with environmental idealism. According to a report published in 2012 by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the amount of wasted food in the U.S. has increased by fifty per cent since the nineteen-seventies, to the point where more than forty per cent of all food grown or raised in the United States now goes to waste somewhere along the supply chain. This in turn means that vast amounts of fossil fuels, water, and other resources are being wasted in the production of unused food.
The economic and environmental advantages of waste reduction have made it a burgeoning concern in the food-service industry. In 2015, waste management was ranked ninth on the National Restaurant Association’s annual survey of culinary trends. Andrew Shakman, a founder of Lean Path, an Oregon-based company that develops software intended to reduce food waste, pointed out that waste elimination is particularly useful for restaurants concerned with sustainability. While other sustainable practices—sourcing food locally, using organic vegetables and meats—often increase costs, he said, attention to waste can lead to savings.
Lean Path’s software, which is modelled on productivity programs used elsewhere in the corporate world, helps servers, chefs, and other restaurant staff measure what they throw away, allowing businesses to cut costs by identifying which foods are being over-ordered or over-served. Restaurants might, for example, be putting too many rolls in a basket, or stocking strawberries for a dish that few customers request. Lean Path boasts that it can help restaurants cut their costs by between two and six per cent, and the National Resource Defense Council calculated that, after the dining services team at the University of California, Berkeley, began using the software, in 2011, the school’s pre-consumer waste dropped by forty-three per cent, which translated to savings of about sixteen hundred dollars a week.
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