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Love the Leftovers


On one hand we live in an age of culinary excellence and excitement and on the other we are dealing with a major problem of food waste.

The issue of food wastage is a serious one, especially in the Indian hospitality space. Over the years, the industry has managed to keep this issue under check, to a certain degree, largely to keep costs under control. However, I feel we can do much more in order to address it in a more practical way, which would also make business and social sense.

Percentage of wastage 

It really depends from outlet to outlet, organisation to organisation. Usually the wastage percentage in the industry is, much higher, however, in our restaurants, we try our best to keep it well between 1-2 per cent.

Measures taken 

We have instilled a strong ethos in our organisation about cooking great dishes while keeping wastage to the minimum. For one, we are planning to engage with a few NGOs to send our surplus food on a daily basis, which won’t be much but, we will ensure that it would feed those who aren’t fortunate enough to get it and not go waste. Aside from this, we already have our SOPs and internal auditing guidelines in place to ensure that we don’t over produce and the wastage is as less as possible.

Food wastage is a problem we tackled head on even before we started operations. We try to cook and keep only the amount required for operations. We have also invested in good refrigeration and good storage facilities, avoiding wastage.

Percentage of wastage

Not more than 3 to 4 per cent as we monitor this keenly.

Measures taken

Our chefs are well trained to keep an eye on what is happening in the kitchen. Also, most importantly, SOPs are in place to process food, right from cleaning the chicken to cutting vegetables. Hence, even a new staff member is automatically trained in the same processes.

Some of the most common items that end up as waste are gravies and sauces as they can’t be made on the spot and can’t be kept for too long either.

We also continuously discuss with staff the importance of cooking in smaller batches. This is to ensure freshness and better quality too. Our cooking methods are continuously looked into and keep evolving to get better. Also, receiving ingredients properly is the key and one needs to be very careful. We also follow and implement the FIFO (first in first out) very seriously. Storage needs to respected, hence investment needs to be made into purchase and upkeep of refrigerators.

Our methods have been extremely successful as there is very negligible wastage and processes are followed across the board.

In all restaurants across SID Hospitality, the curry basics are kept prepared in paste form and refrigerated for freshness. The sales reports are keenly monitored to determine how many portions of a dish go out per day, and only that amount is then prepared. In case there is any excessive need on a particular day, there is always a backup available, without compromising on the quality and also avoiding wastage.

Food wastage is a very critical issue with the hospitality industry. Not only are the food costs are affected, but manpower too is being overworked at the same time. Efficiency, proper planning and a realistic budget is what is required.

Percentage of wastage

It’s usually calculated on a monthly basis by means of a wastage/spoilage report. We tend to rotate the basic ingredients in all our outlets to minimise the wastage. We also use most of the basic preparations in staff cooking if required. The last resort is, however, to discard the food. Hence, the wastage is as low as 3-5 percent or even less.

Measures taken

We have a system of accurate ordering of raw materials. Perishables are sourced on a daily basis, hence it is easy to foresee the consumption for the day ahead and order accordingly. We also distribute food (basically raw meats, basic sauces, etc) amongst our sister concerns, or use it in staff food preparation.

Being a bulk cooking restaurant, wastage at Rajdhani was a matter of concern in the past. It was not just an economical wastage but also a social wastage, which we were not very happy with. To keep a check and control on the same we had many internal discussions, and strategies were built over a period of time. At Rajdhani, there were majorly two kinds of food wastage – one at the production level, i.e food gets cooked in excess and is not consumed, and the second is wastage by the guests once the food is served to them.

Percentage of wastage

Over a period of time, the production wastage has come down from 5 to 1 percent and the customer wastage has come down from 8 to 3 percent.

Measures taken 

We adopt various measures to keep wastage in control. When a new outlet opens, we conduct an in-depth analysis of the business trends and consumption patterns over a period of time. In a period of two months a trend analysis is set for the final production and thus wastage is minimised. Cooking in smaller batches for new units has also helped us overcome the situation. Finally the staff food is prepared only after service hours depending on the excess food left over after the restaurant hours.

Since ours is a thali system and we serve a variety of delicacies, it is natural to have wastage in the form of leftovers. Rajdhani adapted unlimited servings by which each item is served in little quantities with increased no of servings. This not only helped us to control wastage but also allowed the customer to eat hot food. The bowls are specially designed to achieve our objective of little serving while keeping the food hot. Each item is explained to the guest while serving for him to decide what he wants to eat.

A small percentage of food goes to waste; this is an unavoidable consequence of our business. We regularly monitor our wastage and make an effort to minimise loss, but it cannot be eliminated completely.

Percentage of wastage 

We estimate our food wastage to be between 2 and 4 per cent. Sometimes things go amiss but we usually come in within these parameters. We make and serve foods that are highly perishable. Further, the look of our ingredients and finished product is important. Some amount of fruit and our cake edges cannot be used.  The most common items that are wasted are bread ends, edges of a sponge cake, and oil used for frying.

Measures Taken

We lead by example, talking and mentoring staff periodically. We make them aware that if they wouldn’t waste it at home they shouldn’t be wasting it at work. We also distribute a small amount; the rest goes in the bin.

Wastage reduces our profitability and we work hard to minimise this cost. We have introduced many preventative measures with much success. We sell our bread and danish items at half price after 9. This covers our costs; it encourages purchases at the end of the day when these items are not usually consumed and prevents the items from being thrown away.

If a dessert item sits on our shelf for more than 24 hours we discontinue making that product altogether to avoid having to throw it away.

We coordinate the production of macarons (which use only egg whites) with the production of lemon curd (which uses only egg yolks) to eliminate egg wastage completely.

We also ensure that we make things in small batches and make them daily so that we can accurately estimate our requirement prior to production. We had noticed a lot of wastage due to items being put in the oven and then forgotten by staff who had started working on something else or items being dry if over baked and not fit for sale. We now employ an Oven Supervisor to ensure everything is baked at the right temperature and for the right amount of time.

We regularly review and monitor our progress and continually strive to reduce waste.