Once upon a chef there were food costs

Culinary trends come and go, but ask a chef what he’s focusing on this summer, and it may leave you feeling as though you’re speaking to an accountant. A trend many chefs are investing countless hours towards isn’t happening in the kitchen, nor is it related to creating new cuisine. It involves logging hours in an office as they step outside the kitchen to improve the bottom line and food costs.

Improving numbers not only eliminates unnecessary waste or expands the life of their purchases but also creates a new level of organization, as the chefs I talked to stated they typically begin the process with a simple review of storage practices. I found this topic so fascinating it spearheaded the selection of this week’s trend, as I felt it would transcend into an excellent checklist for hospitality. In fact, a few of the basic trade secrets were so impressive, you may want to adopt them at your own property or in your kitchen at home.

Let’s take a look at a few of the suggestions the chefs brought up as practices that have not only helped the bottom line, but also overall organization.

*Take advantage of the current buying season so you can powder and confit ingredients such as berries, mushrooms, tomatoes, beets and turnips — all great for your fresh jams and any meals the chef dusts (e.g., fish plates dusted with mushroom or beets). 

*Incorporate a vacuum pack machine or a chiller for your protein — fish, meat and turkey — storage. You can do portion control then vacuum-pack each. 

*Store delicate herbs as though they are an arrangement of flowers by covering them with plastic, securing with a rubber band and refrigerating. It’s the best way to keep delicate herbs like parsley, basil, cilantro and chives fresh as long as possible.

*One chef shared a story about hanging onions in pantyhose to not only add several months to preserving the onions but also fashion his own creative reminder to pay attention to waste control.

*Add an ethylene gas absorber inside your refrigeration. Pods will absorb the ethylene emitted by fruits and vegetables to keep them fresh up to three times longer.

*Don’t ever store your onions with potatoes, but do store your potatoes with apples to keep them from sprouting. 

*Don’t lose sight of one rotten apple, as it will spoil the bunch (same with lemons), so remove the culprit ASAP.

*Add a dab of butter to the cut side of cheese to keep it from drying out. Wrap in cheese paper or wax paper (NEVER plastic wrap), and store in plastic bags. 

*Wrap the crown of a bunch of bananas with plastic wrap. They’ll keep for three to five days longer than usual, which is especially helpful if you buy organic bananas. Bananas also produce more ethylene gas than any other fruit, so they should be kept isolated.

Now it’s your turn. Please share any food-saving ideas your chef has implemented at your property!