Foodservice Forecast 2017: Has Cutting Waste Become More Profitable Than Unit Growth?

Richard Young, Director of Education

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The Food Service Technology Center kicked off 2017 with our annual Foodservice Forecast seminar featuring presentations by Foodservice Equipment Reports‘ Robin Ashton, the California Restaurant Association‘s Jot Condie and Jessica Lynam, and myself. This year’s seminar touched on the size and shape of the foodservice industry, challenges faced by California restaurateurs, and national sustainability trends.

During his Size and Shape of the Industry presentation, Robin noted that in 2016 Americans made 61 billion visits to restaurants, or about 189 visits per capita. That may seem like a lot, but despite high consumer confidence and strong personal disposable income numbers, 189 visits per capita represents a decline from the historical high of 210 visits in 2001. That drop in traffic is reflected in the fact that there are about 10,000 fewer restaurant units than the historical high of 635,000 back in 2014.

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(Left to Right) FER’s Robin Ashton, CRA’s Jot Condie, the FSTC’s Richard Young, and CRA’s Jessica Lynam present the 2017 Foodservice Forecast at the FSTC in San Ramon, CA on January 10th, 2017.

In fact, much of the restaurant industry has been in contraction for the last few years with independents, mid-scale, and casual dining taking the biggest hits. Meanwhile, the overall commercial foodservice industry continues to expand with other commercial operators (e.g. supermarkets and lodging) and non-commercial operators (e.g. senior living facilities, universities, and hospitals) grabbing more consumer dollars. The bottom line for restaurant operators is that “…the U.S. restaurant market is the most mature and saturated in the world”* and “…sliding same-store sales have chains in all segments slowing unit growth.”* However, many of these operators are buying new equipment to replace the aging equipment they held onto during the industry down years after the “Great Recession”. As a result, the equipment and supplies market remains strong. In fact, operators are buying even more equipment than they predicted they would need.

Here’s why Robin’s message is so important: The restaurant industry is not going to be increasing profits based on unit growth in the coming years. This is a saturated market and most of the building is going to revolve around refurbishing and refreshing existing spaces. The real estate boom is over. However, there is still plenty of profit to be made by cutting energy waste. Every dollar saved on energy is a dollar in pure profit. You normally must sell about $20 of food to make a dollar of profit (5%), but a dollar saved on energy goes directly to the bottomline. If the entire commercial foodservice industry cut their energy bill by 1%, the resulting savings would amount to about $400 million in profit! The surprising conclusion is that cutting waste has become more profitable than unit growth. Therefore, during this time of stalled growth and heavy equipment purchases, it makes more sense than ever to pay attention to what you are buying and opt for the most energy efficient appliances.

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Richard Young presents the 2017 Foodservice Forecast at the FSTC in San Ramon, CA on January 10th, 2017.

The PG&E Food Service Technology Center is a great resource for identifying efficient equipment. The Center’s website (www.fishnick.com) hosts a library of research reports, lists of efficient equipment, and online calculators to help you quantify the potential savings of more efficient equipment. There is plenty of profit to be had by restaurants that learn to use energy as effectively as possible.

*Source: Robin Ashton, Publisher, Foodservice Equipment Reports magazine.The Foodservice Equipment & Supplies Market: 2017 FER Forecast Update.

Organic Waste Recycling for Foodservice: What You Need To Know

Claudia Pingatore, Energy Analyst

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Until 2016, commercial organic recycling was limited to the dedicated few. Now, thanks to California’s AB 1826, there is a centralized system that businesses, cities, and haulers can – and in some cases, must – partake in. Let’s talk about what that means for you.

What do I need to do?
If you produce 4 cubic yards* (the size of a standard commercial bin, not the smaller ‘cart’) or more of organic waste per week, you must separate and recycle that waste. This is usually done by purchasing the service from your hauler (existing or otherwise), and is what we will focus on here. This will involve learning what is accepted in your area, setting up the proper on-site infrastructure, and training your staff.

Here is a brief overview of the terms used by the various stakeholders in the world of organic waste recycling, which often cause confusion:

Organic matter comes from a living organism; food waste is one type of organic matter. When people differentiate between these two terms, they could be talking about other non-food organic waste streams like landscaping waste and cow manure.

Recycling is a general term referring to the breaking down of materials in order to produce something else with them. Composting can be considered a form of recycling. It refers specifically to the breakdown of biodegradable waste (e.g. all organic matter) for soil amendments. In the case of food waste, many refer to it as “recycling” because the product could also be used for energy instead of soil amendments.

Items that are biodegradable break down into their components via natural processes. A compostable item is a certain type of biodegradable item that breaks down relatively quickly into humus, a substance that enriches soil.

An extensive list of composting terms and their definitions can be found here.

What will this cost me?
Costs vary by region and hauler, but should be comparable to your recycling service fee. In some cases, such as here in San Ramon, a limited volume of organic recycling is included in your existing recycling rate, so that you don’t pay anything extra! In addition, added costs could potentially be offset by reduced landfill collection – if you have enough organic waste to fill a whole trash bin, you won’t need to pay for that bin anymore.

What goes in the organics recycling bin?
Food scraps and other eligible compostable waste go in the green bin – this is in addition to traditional ‘green waste’ from landscaping. Collectively, this is organic waste, and all organic waste goes in the same bin. Food scraps are easy – anything from coffee grounds to meat (including bones) to bread can be recycled. The tricky part is paper and products labelled “compostable”.

What about my other products, such as compostable serving ware?

  • Any food- or oil-soiled paper product (e.g. napkins, plates, and pizza boxes) is accepted in the organics bin.
  • Any unsoiled paper products should go in the regular recycling bin.
  • Lined paper products, such as coated paper plates, are complicated since some coatings are plastic and others, like wax, are compostable. Since it can be difficult (if not impossible) to tell what material the lining is, the current rule of thumb is to put clean/unused products in the regular recycling bin with other paper and plastic.
  • Other natural fibers such as bamboo are fine for composting, as long as they aren’t treated or combined with other materials.
  • Bioplastics that are labelled compostable may or may not be accepted: products that are third-party certified as compostable (look for the below labels) certainly should be, however, any without a certification are questionable.
  • The important thing to note here is that each hauler will have slight variations on what they can and cannot recycle, depending on the process they use. So start by going to your hauler. All major haulers have information online, often times downloadable signage as well, on what they will and won’t accept.

Potential confusion over the compostability of certain products is one reason reusable serving ware is always ideal. While many products are likely a non-issue, green-washing can cover up myriad chemicals that we don’t want getting mixed up in potential crop soil amendments. The other reason, of course, is the significantly lower lifetime environmental impact. But if reusables won’t work for your operation, be sure to buy disposable products that you know are indeed compostable. Look for the following labels when making these purchases:

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How do I get my staff and co-workers on board?
Setting up a proper infrastructure on-site is the foundation of a successful organics recycling program. This includes:

  • Bin Placement: Put appropriately-sized green bins (or countertop pails) in all areas where food waste is frequently generated. Also, be sure to put green bins beside any other trash and recycling receptacles. Using uncoated paper bags or cardboard boxes is an alternative that requires less maintenance, since they can be thrown directly into the compost bin.

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  • Bags: If buying bags, make sure they are compostable (contaminating organics with a plastic bag would be unfortunate after all that separating!). Go for heavy-duty versions as compostable bags are notoriously problematic with heavy loads. Alternatively, skip the bag altogether by dumping directly from the pails/bins.
  • Signage: Signage is essential for behavioral reinforcement. Put signs on all pails and bins, clearly noting it is for organic waste. The most effective signs rely on pictures rather than text – and the more customized to your particular waste stream, the better. You can request signage from your hauler or CalRecycle.
  • Manage the Waste: Dump bins frequently to avoid odor and pest issues. Delegate duties fairly and if necessary get your custodial staff on board.

Aside from infrastructure, your approach to staff matters. Typically, explaining the importance – the “why” behind the system, rather than just the “what” – can spark a baseline level of cooperation.

What can I get out of this?
Sustainability in foodservice has been an upward trend for years with many operators already implementing measures that reflect the values of their customers. Tapping into that PR value with a little public boasting can help attract and retain customers. A well-designed dining room display, for example, can show how your kitchen team works together to reduce waste, making your customers feel like their patronage is also contributing to that sense of community. You can take this PR-approach to the next level by composting your own food waste, applying it to your garden, and incorporating the food into your menu, creating a true closed loop of sustainability. That kind of effort tends to get its own recognition, such as the Zero Waste platinum certification awarded to Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.!

Are there other options to getting a green bin?
You are not required to get a green bin from your hauler, you are only required to recycle organic waste. That is, if you have 4 cubic yards or more that would otherwise be thrown away. Therefore, other options include:

  • Compost on-site, as discussed above. This can be done in traditional ways such as an outdoor pile you tend to manually, or even low-maintenance vermiculture.
  • Other pricier options for on-site composting include equipment such as composters and digesters. See this helpful FES article for more information.
  • Haul your own green waste to an organics recycling facility.

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  • Prevent food waste entirely to the point where you fall below the threshold. Prevention (or “source reduction”) is in fact the ideal diversion as outlined by the food waste hierarchy to the left. This doesn’t mean, however, that the amount you do generate should go in the trash!
  • Divert food waste from the trash in other ways. For example, donating edible foods to people or even livestock, both of which are the next best solutions in the food recovery hierarchy. The below organizations are just some of the options available for those in the East Bay Area:
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What can I expect in the future?
Aside from more clarity on acceptable materials and generally more streamlined processes, slight regulatory changes can be expected in the near future. In 2019, the organics recycling requirement will extend to people who generate 4 or more cubic yards of overall solid waste, not just organic waste. In addition, the threshold for compliance might drop in 2020 to 2 cubic yards if a certain percent diversion from landfills is not met by then.

What if I still need help?
This mandate is enforced by the state agency CalRecycle, however, jurisdictions are charged with administering it at the local level since they hold the contracts with the haulers. As such, you have several resources for help:

  • Your hauler. Questions on hauling logistics, billing, and acceptable waste can be directed to your hauler. If unsure who that is, look on your waste collection bin or bill.
  • Your local jurisdiction and/or CalRecycle. Broader questions that can’t be answered by your hauler can be directed to either of these entities. If unsure of your local jurisdiction or where to find a regional CalRecycle liaison, refer to this search form.

Whether you are new to food waste recycling or a seasoned pro, instituting an organics waste recycling program in a cooperative commercial setting will have its hurdles. But the ultimate benefits are tremendous:

CO2 vs. Methane
The breakdown of organic waste releases CO2, the poster-molecule for greenhouse gases. However, methane is a 28-36 times more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Methane is released in oxygen-deprived environments such as landfills.

  • Millions of tons of energy-rich material will be delivered back to the biosphere or converted to useful power instead of going to the landfill.
  • Methane emissions (a significant
    contributor to climate change) will be
    significantly reduced.
  • Green sector jobs will be created.

 

*If you are wondering how to quantify your organic waste, you cannot accurately know without separating and measuring the volume. But simpler, albeit less accurate, options include (1) using the EPA’s estimated threshold for participation based on number of employees (for restaurants, its 51, including part time workers), or (2) eyeballing it, keeping in mind that 1 cubic yard = a cube with 3-foot sides.

Introducing Chef Mark Duesler!

Michael Karsz, Research Technician

markdThe FSTC is proud to introduce the newest member of our team, Mark Duesler! Mark will fill a vital role as Chef Consultant/Program Advisor at Fisher-Nickel, Inc. and oversee the new equipment demonstration program at the FSTC facility. With 20 plus years of experience in foodservice including 15 years working in commercial kitchens, Mark will have the opportunity to share his knowledge and expertise with the FSTC technical staff and restaurant operators alike.

Duesler is a professionally trained chef who has worked in multiple full-service kitchens from small, family-owned restaurants and multi-course, fine dining establishments to chef-driven farm-to-table concepts. Duesler graduated from the California Culinary Academy in 2004 and has worked in many restaurants including the Restaurant at Wente and Bacara Spa Cafe.

Mark debuted his culinary acumen at the FSTC’s Greener Restaurants: The Power of Green seminar on December 7th. The seminar focused on environmentally responsible and sustainable foodservice management including discussions of proper waste handling, locally-sourced food procurement, energy efficient equipment, and water conservation practices. Mark set out to create a custom menu to capture the essence of the sustainability theme while delighting attendees’ palettes along the way. Attendees enjoyed such menu items as pancetta and mustard seed-topped deviled eggs (a big hit!), crispy brussel sprouts with pumpernickel creme, and slow-braised short ribs with gremolata. For a full look at Mark’s menu for the event, click here.

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Chef Mark Duesler’s spread for the Greener Restaurants seminar on December 7th, 2016.

With a successful event under his belt, Mark is now focused on building out the FSTC’s equipment demonstration program known as Try Before You Buy. The program offers foodservice operators a rare opportunity to cook on equipment (combis, smokers, induction cooktops, fryers, amongst many others) at the FSTC facility before committing to a purchase. The program will not only serve the practical interests of the restaurant operator, but will enable the FSTC to demonstrate live the myriad benefits of energy efficient equipment and new, energy-saving technologies. Charles Billies, owner of Souvla Restaurant in San Francisco, has already taken advantage of the program: “Our testing of the equipment was a complete success – certainly made possible by [the FSTC’s] generosity, superb facility, and extraordinary team. It was also through conversation with the FSTC that I was convinced to switch my existing fryer to an ENERGY STAR® certified fryer.”

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New FSTC team member Mark Duesler prepares a custom meal for Greener Restaurants seminar attendees on December 7th, 2016.

FSTC Director of Education, Richard Young, is also excited to have Mark at the helm of the Try Before You Buy program: “Over the twenty-nine years that the Food Service Technology Center has been in operation, cooking equipment has evolved dramatically as have cooking techniques. Combination ovens, blast chillers, and rapid cook ovens coupled with farm-to-table, cook-chill, and sous-vide give operators a much wider choice of cooking platforms and techniques than ever before. Chef Mark Duesler speaks the language of the commercial kitchen while at the same time understanding the science behind the cooking equipment – offering visitors to the FSTC a bridge between food and technology that is not usually available to anyone outside of the largest chain operators.”

Mark’s exposure to a wide range of foodservice concepts gives him a unique understanding of the wants and needs of foodservice operators across the industry. Already having displayed his exemplary culinary prowess, Mark will look to strengthen the bond between the FSTC and its foodservice customers in the coming new year through education, demonstration, and shared experience. Welcome aboard Mark!

Solid Fuel Cooking: Codes & Standards

Rich Swierczyna, Senior Engineer

RichWith the rise of exhibition and front-of-house cooking, solid fuel appliances are gaining a foothold in commercial kitchens, most notably in establishments like pizzerias and BBQ restaurants. These appliances are fueled by highly combustible material such as charcoal, briquettes, mesquite, or hardwood. Many restaurant operators prefer this method of cooking for the unique charred or smoked flavoring it lends popular food items such as pizzas, beef brisket, sausages, etc., that other types of fuel, like natural gas, do not provide. However, even though this cooking method imparts a desirable flavor, the process poses great fire and health risks making proper ventilation particularly imperative to the restaurant operator.

Nationwide, the International Mechanical Code (IMC) and Uniform Mechanical Code (UMC) models typically govern the installation of commercial kitchen appliances. For California, the California Mechanical Code (CMC) is based off the UMC. In either case, the model codes refer to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 96 for the installation, operation, and maintenance of the equipment. In general, for safe operation and maintenance, the ventilation of solid fuel cooking appliances must be separate from all other cooking appliances. The exemption to the requirement is if solid fuel is only used for flavoring. The major point of contention has always been the definition of cooking with solid fuel vs. flavoring with solid fuel. How can an operator tell the difference?

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Solid fuel cooking appliances, such as the ubiquitous wood-fired pizza oven, require special ventilation attention and a vigilant inspection schedule (via Instructables).

The ASHRAE 154 standard on kitchen ventilation has the most conservative approach. It defines a solid fuel appliance as an appliance that combusts solid fuel such as wood, charcoal, or coal to provide all or part of the heat for the cooking process. It defines a solid fuel flavoring cooking appliance as an appliance that uses an energy source other than solid fuel to provide all of the heat for the cooking process, but combusts solid fuel solely for the purpose of imparting flavor to the food being cooked, e.g. a natural gas combination oven with a “smoker box” attachment. Essentially, if solid fuel is involved in any point of the cooking process, it is considered a solid fuel operation and requires a separate exhaust system.

However, the model codes typically rely on NFPA 96 which is more specific in determining the difference between solid fuel for flavoring and solid fuel for cooking. The CMC refers to Solid-Fuel Cooking Equipment as “cooking equipment that utilizes solid fuel” [NFPA 96:3.3.23.2]. This equipment includes ovens, tandoori charcoal pots, grills, broilers, rotisseries, barbecue pits, or other types of cooking equipment that derive all or part of its heat source from the burning of solid cooking fuel. The ventilation requirements of these appliances have been recently revised. Solid fuel cooking equipment requires a separate exhaust system with two notable exceptions: (1) If it is installed under a water-wash hood listed under UL300 (i.e., cooking equipment not requiring automatic fire-extinguishing equipment) or (2) If the solid fuel is used for flavoring only. For the second exception, the code limits the size, amount, and rate at which solid fuel is consumed by the appliance. This is to minimize the amount of available fuel in case of a fire. The solid fuel must be contained in a smoker box and the box must be protected by the fire suppression system. Spark arresters must be placed before the grease filters to minimize the passage of airborne sparks and embers into plenums and ducts. Sparks and embers can ignite built up creosote (a by-product of solid fuel combustion) in the exhaust ducts. Creosote adheres to the exhaust duct walls and because of its low flashpoint, poses a severe fire hazard. Monthly duct cleaning as recommended in the code should be strictly followed.

The wood-fired grill would require a separate ventilation hood apart from the other appliances in your commercial kitchen (via GrillWorks).

Incidentally, Demand Controlled Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV) is not recommended for solid fuel cooking. The cooking and thermal plume generated during cooking and ready-to-cook conditions are too similar to allow for any airflow modulation or potential energy savings.

The code clearly defines the parameters for the installation, operation, and maintenance of solid fuel appliances. However, vigilant oversight is necessary. During follow up inspections, inspectors have often found more than the allowable amount of solid fuel used as fuel instead of flavoring. As we have seen, there is a fine line between the definitions, but the results of too much solid fuel can be disastrous.

What’s On Tap?

Kiana Caban, Communications Assistant

KianaThe FSTC attended the 2016 California Craft Beer Summit, a three-day event with an interactive expo, multiple educational sessions, and a concluding beer festival in Sacramento, CA this past September. The annual event is hosted by the California Craft Brewers Association (CCBA), an entity dedicated to connecting and empowering California craft brewers through advocacy, education, and communication. The Summit brings together craft brewers, visionaries, innovators, business partners, distributors, retailers, and beer lovers across the state to showcase and highlight the craft brewing industry’s growth and success.

Beer brewing is a water and energy intensive process. It takes about 20 gallons of water to produce one pint of beer. Most of that water is used in growing barley and hops, however, a significant amount is used in the brewing process itself. In addition, an essential part of brewing is heating and cooling liquids as rapidly as possible, which requires a lot of energy. Most breweries also operate taprooms and restaurants, which have their own energy and water demands (and where the FSTC could really assert its years of foodservice expertise!) Armed with these notions, the FSTC sought to learn more about the craft beer industry’s practices, while also educating the industry on water- and energy-efficiency at this year’s Summit.

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FSTC team members (from left to right) Janel, Kiana, Michael, and Andre prepare the FSTC booth at the California Craft Beer Summit expo on September 8th, 2016.

Co-hosting the Water Innovations Showcase booth with the nonprofit group American Rivers, the FSTC created various displays showing how brewers and facility operators could save water (and energy) in their breweries.

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The FSTC’s hands-on wort-chilling demonstration presented at the California Craft Beer Summit on September 9th, 2016.

Making It Cold: Savings are Brewing. This hands-on brewing demo featured a copper coil immersion chiller, a (simulated) bucket of wort (aka not-yet-fermented beer), and three buckets of cooling water. The goal was to visually demonstrate the substantial volume of water required to quickly cool down hot wort before fermentation in the brewing process. Seeking a better grasp on the attending breweries’ operations, we asked, “How much water does it take to cool your wort?” Attendees had widely different answers depending on the size of their chillers. We followed with, “What do you do with your leftover cooling water?”

We found that most larger breweries already have sustainable mechanisms in place for water conservation that include reusing cooling water for cleaning brewing equipment, bottling lines, kegs, etc., or even using a glycol cooling system in place of water altogether. However, we learned that some smaller breweries and homebrewers still dump their used cooling water down the drain. With an ongoing statewide drought and the ever increasing price of water, we encouraged these brewers to find reuses for all that wastewater.

What’s Brewing in Your Business? The FSTC also displayed a “Think Tank Questionnaire” where we surveyed some of the attendees about the specifics of their brewery, their foodservice operation (if applicable), their heating/cooling system, etc. This provided a better understanding of California brewery demographics and how the FSTC can assist the brewing industry in its efficiency and sustainability efforts in the future.

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FSTC members attend one of many “Tap Talk” sessions in which brewmasters discussed topics ranging from the rise of barrel-aged and sour beers to business growth and opportunities at the California Craft Beer Summit on September 9th, 2016.

Alongside the interactive sections of the booth, we also had four stations equipped with different energy and water saving tips that most any brewer or brewery could utilize.

Refrigeration Savings are Brewing. Many breweries use custom walk-in coolers for fermentation and keg storage. As such, we recreated the FSTC’s “4-on-the-door” mnemonic to help brewers limit energy waste in walk-ins. “4-on-the-door” is 1) Install an auto door closer, 2) Check door hinge alignment, 3) Inspect and maintain door gaskets regularly, and 4) Add strip curtains as a secondary barrier to heat infiltration.

Water Savings are Brewing. For the brewery restaurant or taproom operator, the easiest and most inexpensive measure you can take to conserve water is to switch to a low-flow pre-rinse spray nozzle. By changing out that old high-flow nozzle to a 1.15 gpm or less nozzle, you can save approximately $1,800/year! Check out California rebate-qualified PRSVs here.

Dish Machine Savings are Brewing. By purchasing an ENERGY STAR® dishwashing machine, breweries can cut costs in half! A standard dishmachine costs $1,200/year to operate, whereas an ENERGY STAR® dishmachine costs $600/year to operate. For more tips on dishmachines, please visit fishnick.com

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The FSTC’s Richard Young demonstrates the energy savings of switching from an incandescent Edison bulb to a LED Edison-style bulb at the California Craft Beer Summit on September 9th, 2016.

Energy Savings are Brewing. Efficient lighting can save you big money. With the power required to light one Edison bulb, you could light fifteen similar LED bulbs! A 60 watt Edison bulb’s annual cost to operate is $45/year, while a 4 watt LED Edison bulb’s annual cost to operate $3/year. What large savings for something so simple to change!

The craft brewing industry was built on innovation, collaboration, and a shared sense of environmental responsibility. With that in mind, the FSTC was heartened to learn that the industry has taken great strides in sustainability and energy efficiency with many of the largest craft brewers leading the way. At the same time, much more can be done to engender energy and water saving best practices industry-wide, not only in the back brewhouse, but in the restaurant and taproom too. The Craft Beer Summit gave the FSTC valuable insight into the scale and particulars of this exciting industry, while also working to expand the FSTC’s energy- and water-saving influence.

The FSTC Raises the Bar…

Claudia Pingatore, Energy Analyst

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The Food Service Technology Center is thrilled to broaden its influence to the world of breweries and bars, both energy- and water-intensive industries. To kick off this budding relationship, the FSTC hosted Raising the Bar on October 11th, an evening event with presentations, conversations, and hands-on equipment demonstrations. For those that missed it, topics included chilling/distribution systems, ice, lighting, bar food menus, and the “farm-to-glass” movement.

Hunter Abraham with Chill-Rite presented on serving efficiency for draught beer and wine. He discussed how operators can cater their beverage temperatures to the particular type you are serving and the experience you want to impart. Hunter mentioned that most bar operations end up wasting 30% of their kegged beer through improper dispensing. This adds up to significant wasted potential sales for the bar operator. Installation of an efficient chilling and distribution system can drastically reduce this beer (and energy!) waste and improve temperature control of dispensed beverages.

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Pete Palm of WPD discusses the three rules of ice making for the FSTC’s Raising the Bar event on October 11th, 2016.

Pete Palm with Western Pacific Distributors (WPD) presented on ice making and its inextricable connection to the bar industry. He began with three rules to remember for ice: 1) Ice is a food product, 2) Ice is not 100% water and, 3) Ice types are not equal. He went on to discuss how the right ice types can influence drink presentation and sales. For example, large “gourmet” ice cubes are ideal for craft cocktails since they have a perfect dilution rate (read: slow), their temperature maintenance does not obscure any of the cocktail’s flavors, and they are aesthetically pleasing to the customer, all of which can help justify a cost premium. Pete also talked about ice machines themselves being an excellent opportunity for energy and cost savings in bar service. Specify an ENERGY STAR®/rebate-qualified ice machine when possible. Please visit the FSTC’s ice machine page for more information. For a full list of rebated models visit: fishnick.com/saveenergy/rebates

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The FSTC’s Richard Young demonstrates the 4 Watt LED bulb vs. the 60 Watt Edison bulb for guests on October 11th, 2016.

The FSTC’s own Richard Young then launched into a presentation on the importance of lighting to the bar manager. Studies have shown that lighting has a direct impact on patron’s moods and thus their willingness to spend, so bar lighting should be designed as welcoming as possible. Be intent with you lighting choices: choose lighting that highlights your food/drink options and menus. Drape your bar in soft, indirect lighting that draws people in and encourages them to stay. Also, stay away from the en vogue, but energy-guzzling Edison-style decorative bulbs! Instead, opt for the LED versions of these stylish bulbs that use a fraction of the energy. Check out PG&E’s lighting rebate catalog here.

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Tim Nasty of Preferred Marketing Group (PMG) cooks quesadillas in the Merrychef rapid cook oven for Raising the Bar guests on October 11th, 2016.

When food is served at a bar, whether it’s small snacks or a full bar menu, the average customer stays a half hour longer! In addition, offering suggested food pairings with drinks is a great way to sell more of each. To help bars get in on this action, Wendy Akers with Boar’s Head described their comprehensive Bistro Program that not only supplies food to operators, but also offers menu consultation, pairing advice, and supporting products such as merchandisers, meal photographs for menus, etc. For more information, contact Wendy at Wendy.Akers@boarshead.com. Jeff Yates with Inform Marketing Group followed with another key component to successful bar food service: appliance ease-of-use and space efficiency. Combination ovens offer both with intelligent controls that make virtually every step of foodservice easier. With its impressive cooking versatility, Jeff claimed that a combi oven could very well be the only cooking appliance you need in your bar! Otherwise be sure to specify energy efficient small form factor appliances such as rapid cook ovens, microwaves, and toaster ovens.

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Rational chefs demonstrate the cooking versatility of their combination ovens with short ribs, bacon-wrapped scallops, and many other treats for Raising the Bar guests on October 11th, 2016.

From the bar operator perspective, the dining trends of full service restaurants also apply to bar service. Specifically, sustainability remains of value to customers, even though the topic hasn’t seen much attention in the bar industry as opposed to the dining world. Mixologist James P. Gatts from Oakland’s Shakewell and Main Squeeze set out to change that through mixing organic beverages by sourcing sustainable cocktail ingredients and artisan small-batch spirits. Organic sourcing (though not necessarily local/seasonal) does often cost more, however, James has been able to offset that added cost through careful planning and use of higher priced liquor. He also noted that the organic sourcing endeavor could be overwhelming at first, but is worthwhile because it gives customers a “sense of time and place”—that is, a connection with your food and your establishment.

Once the presentations concluded, guests enjoyed a vendor fair with plenty of pub grub like flatbreads, gourmet charcuterie, and white anchovy crostinis with accompanying craft beverages. Guests networked with equipment reps and FSTC staff alike to ask specific questions regarding bar service and energy management. As a final note, remember that food prep is the biggest energy using component of the kitchen. So when purchasing new equipment or making changes in your facility/operation, be sure to consult fishnick.com for more tools, tips, and rebate information!

The 2016 SCOCO Leadership Awards Gala: Contra Costa Celebrates Sustainability Through Partnership

Claudia Pingatore, Energy Analyst

Claudia-HeadShot03CropEvery time I go to the Sustainable Contra Costa (SCOCO) Leadership In Sustainability & Green Building Awards Gala, I am filled with inspiration. I get to see old friends and meet new people, all coming together to celebrate the concept of sustainability: that is, bettering our quality of life through not only caring for our environment, but strengthening the interpersonal connections of all its inhabitants for the greater good.

This was the 8th year for the event that included not only the awards presentation, but plenty of networking with nosh and libations provided by local establishments like Captain Vineyards of Moraga and Corners Tavern of Walnut Creek. The gala theme this year was “Inspired by Nature” in honor of the U.S. National Park Service’s Centennial. Contra Costa County supervisors presented leadership awards in these categories: Sustainable Communities, Food System Innovation, Resource Management, Green Building, Rising Star, and Lifetime Achievement. I’ll cover some of the winners that are of special relation to the Food Service Technology Center.

2016 SCOCO Gala

Guests enjoy a wide array of food and drink at the SCOCO Leadership In Sustainability Awards Gala on September 21st, 2016. Source: sustainablecoco.org/awards_gala

Larry Sly was the winner of the Lifetime Achievement award for his 40 years of work providing hungry people in the community with meals through the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano. Larry’s years of work have demonstrated the connection between sustainable food practices and taking care of your neighbors. The FSTC is proud to have partnered with the Food Bank of Contra Costa as our primary test food donation source over the past five years.

Larry Sly

Larry Sly of the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano accepts the SCOCO Lifetime Achievement Award. Source: sustainablecoco.org/node/232

Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD), who won the Food System Innovation award for their integrated Farm-to-School Program, expressed gratitude toward the team of dedicated people that were crucial in its implementation. The FSTC has collaborated with several schools within the MDUSD in recent years including bolstering our laboratory summer internship program and hosting educational events with Mt. Diablo High School. The video below explores MDUSD’s Farm-to-School Program in more depth:

I also connected with Contra Costa native Blaine Landberg of Calicraft Brewing when I casually mentioned my favorite beer style (IPA!) and he told me all about Calicraft’s sustainable brewing processes—as well as the sustainable design that went into their new taproom in Walnut Creek. The FSTC is working on future collaborations with the brewing industry to help engender sustainable brewing practices through energy and water efficiency. Stay tuned!

All SCOCO gala winners stressed the importance of collaboration and partnership. The FSTC continues to nurture its relationships with these Contra Costa sustainability leaders. Whether working with restaurant operators or school districts, we seek to educate, assist, and ultimately empower people to make sustainably conscious business choices.

The FSTC Takes a Ride into the Food Truck World…

Kiana Caban, Communications Assistant

KianaHave you ever thought of taking the wheels off your food truck and transitioning to a brick-and-mortar restaurant? Or, conversely, putting some wheels on your foodservice establishment? Not sure what questions to ask or what potholes to avoid?

The PG&E Food Service Technology Center (FSTC) recently took a ride to the food truck side by bringing in Chef Walter Abrams of Dabba to tell his story at our Foodservice in Motion: From Food Truck to Brick & Mortar seminar on Tuesday, July 26th. Foodservice in Motion focused on how to transition your food truck to a brick-and-mortar establishment while saving energy, water, and money along the way.

Dabba Truck

The Dabba food truck parked outside the Food Service Technology Center prior to the Foodservice in Motion seminar on July 26th, 2016.

Chef Walter shared how his Marin-based, East Indian-inspired Dabba (Hindi for “lunchbox”) food truck transformed into a San Francisco restaurant with all its accompanying challenges and successes. FSTC senior engineer Mark Finck discussed how the FSTC was able to help Chef Walter & Dabba achieve this dream and offered attendees tips and tricks for making their own transition to opening a restaurant.

Foodservice in Motion

The FSTC’s Mark Finck (left) and Dabba’s Chef Walter (right) present ways to attract foodservice customers.

Finck and Chef Walter did a Q&A session hitting the following four key topics:

Location/Accessibility
Dabba food truck initially focused on taking the truck to different round-up groups (e.g. Off the Grid) in Napa and catering private events (e.g. Bottle Rock). Participating in these different events helped engender a customer following for Dabba. That was an advantage as Dabba’s restaurant eventually took root in the San Francisco Financial District, where professionals go out five days a week for lunch. Mark Finck also stressed that, “The best restaurants thrive on their location, location, location.” When searching for a restaurant location, an operator must consider the surrounding city culture, foot traffic, and local demographics.

Value to the Customer
Dabba focuses on serving high quality product to their customers – 90% of their food product is organic or pesticide free, which stems from building partnerships with local farms. When serving customers from the food truck, ticket time for guests is usually under 10 minutes. If it runs longer, they try to foster relationships with their customers while they wait for their food. In the restaurant, ticket times are between 2-2 ½ minutes. Chef Walter’s vision is to deliver “delicious, healthful food by including a higher quality service experience for guests. I want you to sit down and use cloth napkins and silverware, while a host floats around and connects with guests.”

Chef Walter’s central takeaway: “Food trucks are a great way to raise money, market your brand, and build a concept.” The Dabba food truck experience was a crucial step toward establishing itself with its customers and the industry before venturing into the restaurant arena.

Dabba Truck 1

Dabba food truck prepares lunch for FSTC seminar attendees.

Operational Cost
The FSTC’s Mark Finck discussed how choosing ENERGY STAR® efficient equipment can dramatically lower operational costs. When selecting equipment, appliances using less energy will still meet your cooking requirements while significantly saving you in utility costs. This is an important consideration when moving from a food truck with limited gas supplies and electrical power from generators. When transitioning to mortar, power is no longer limited, so utility costs will significantly impact your profit margins.

Chef Walter stated that Dabba food truck’s profit was determined by event location and the most lucrative events were the ones that had a fixed number of meals to serve (e.g. catering events). When attending an event that was based on customer draw, often times the amount of food prepped did not align with the amount of food sold, which affected Dabba’s bottom line.

Signature Menu
Chef Walter discussed how Dabba is inspired by a restaurant known as Avatar’s, an institution in Marin County. Dabba restaurant serves East Indian flavored tacos, burritos, rice bowls, and salads. They focus on serving high quality product with “ethnic confusion… healthy and bold flavors.”

Dabba Truck 2

Foodservice in Motion seminar attendees wait in line at the Dabba food truck for seared chicken rice bowls.

The Dabba food truck was on-site for the seminar providing attendees with the opportunity to taste Chef Walter’s unique flavors for lunch.

With so many different food truck attendees looking to transition to a brick-and-mortar restaurant (or vice versa), the FSTC hosted a vendor fair for the final part of the seminar. Vendors included: BlueCart, California Restaurant Association, Central Contra Costa County Sanitary District, Contra Costa County Environmental Health, Food Craft Institute, and Mr. Food Safety. Attendees had the opportunity to pose questions and start connections with these valuable foodservice resources.

The recent food truck boom has equipped many foodservice operators with an ambition to “go brick-and-mortar”. As this seminar demonstrated, the FSTC’s energy-saving expertise and numerous resources give food truck operators the support they need to succeed in any endeavor.

For the full Foodservice in Motion presentation, please visit http://fishnick.com/handouts/07262016/

What is Sustainability Beyond the Plate?

Claudia Pingatore, Energy Analyst

Claudia-HeadShot03Crop
The food plate gets all the attention…but often times there are many opportunities for sustainability in the back of a restaurant that go ignored…

The FSTC’s Richard Young presented Sustainability Beyond the Plate: Intro to Energy Efficiency on June 23rd discussing the fundamentals of energy and water efficiency for commercial foodservice, from the basic sustainable concepts to calculating utility costs.

The following are three audience takeaways based on the learning goals identified during the seminar:

Kitchens Should Be Concerned About Sustainability

Kitchens are resource intensive! They’re money intensive – costing billions per year to operate; they’re people intensive – employing thousands and feeding millions daily; and of course they are energy- and water-intensive. A restaurant typically has an energy footprint (that is, energy use per unit area) about 5-10 times that of office/retail buildings, and there are tens of thousands of restaurants in California alone! This resource intensity certainly affects your bottom line, but the collective impact puts a lot of pressure on our environment as well. Between what’s on the plate and what it takes to put it there, kitchens are in a uniquely influential position when it comes to sustainability.

Efficiency is a Simple Concept

While efficiency is just a part of sustainability, they often go hand-in-hand. And while sustainability is a comprehensive and sometimes overwhelming concept, efficiency is quite simple: it is how much product you can sell vs. how many ingredients you buy. The key here is to recognize that water and energy are ingredients. Just like oil or flour, utilities are purchased by you, delivered to you, and go into the food you sell—that is, if they’re not wasted.

Director of Education Richard Young presents Sustainability Beyond the Plate at the FSTC on June 23rd, 2016.

You Have More Power Than You Think!

Many kitchen operators think that high utility use is just a part of the job: “The kitchen needs what it needs and I just have to cough up the money for it.” But based on the FSTC’s almost 30 years of research, we can tell you that need not be the case.

Once you start managing your utilities like ingredients and looking for ways to optimize them, you’ll see that there is a world of opportunity. For example, many operators think that efficient appliances are too expensive. However, utility rebates can help offset some of the upfront cost and there are many scenarios where an efficient model can pay for itself through utility savings in just a couple years!
If you remember to look at the FSTC’s online tools or give us a call before you shop, you can avoid a misstep that will actually be “too expensive”. Consider attending one of the FSTC’s many seminars or check out our online training video library if you can’t be with us in person. The FSTC’s online tools and resources are accessible and easy to use, truly empowering the kitchen operator to spend their money wisely and practice sustainability “beyond the plate.”

To see the full presentation from the seminar, click here: www.fishnick.com/handouts/06232016

Fishnick Makes Footprints at the NRA Show

Kiana Caban, Communications Assistant

KianaOn May 21st, the FSTC team hit the road to Chicago, IL for the NRA Show 2016. Everyone on the team had different tasks they were trying to accomplish on this trip, from project meetings with manufacturers and attending various educational sessions to launching our Twitter account and our new online training program, Fe3 (!). It being my first time at the NRA Show, my goal was to build up our social media presence and attend several educational sessions.

On day one of the show we walked the floor to get the lay of the land. The first stop was the Frymaster booth where Frymaster received the Blue Flame Award for their Frymaster Integrated Oil Quality Sensor (OQS), a built-in system that monitors oil health and indicates when frying oil needs replacement.

Blue Flame Award

The FSTC’s David Zabrowski congratulates the Frymaster team as winners of the Blue Flame Award for their Integrated Oil Quality Sensor.

The next stop was the Kitchens Innovations Award booths where the FSTC’s David Zabrowski and Richard Young visited this year’s winners such as Vulcan’s Low Water Energy Steamers, Blodgett’s “Hoodini” Ventless Mini Combi Oven, and Champion’s Ventless Heat Recovery Dish Machine amongst many others.

We also stopped by the Rational booth with their impressive “pop-up” restaurant where Richard Young and I got to meet Chef Thomas Keller and ask him a few questions about sustainability.

Thomas_Keller

From left to right: The FSTC’s Kiana Caban, world-renowned chef Thomas Keller, and the FSTC’s Richard Young.

Richard then participated in a story telling session, “Expert Advice Along the Path to Sustainability” alongside Chef/Owner/Author, Rick Bayless; Director of Sustainability and Public Outreach in the Americas of Asia Pulp and Paper, Ian Lifshitz; and President and CEO of LeanPath, Inc., Andrew Shakman.

Richards_Presentation

From left to right: Asia Pulp & Paper’s Ian Lifshitz, Chef Rick Bayless, the FSTC’s Richard Young, and LeanPath’s Andrew Shakman.

They discussed the tried-and-true tips for beginning a journey toward sustainability. The following were the expert’s four key takeaways:

Rick Bayless: “Invest in staff because running a restaurant consciously takes teamwork. Once everyone understands the greater importance of those efforts, they’re much more willing to make the extra effort.”

Ian Lifshitz: “Take a holistic view of sustainability: from lighting, packaging, and napkins to water consumption and transportation practices, among other factors, to enhance and strengthen your sustainability success.”

Richard Young: “Energy (for cooking, refrigeration, cooling, etc.) is just another ingredient in your menu! Use it effectively and reap the cost savings! Start by swapping out a few old school energy-guzzling light bulbs for high-quality LEDS – it is easy to do and will save you money.”

Andrew Shakman: “Changing behavior at scale is an uphill battle…that we can win. Perseverance is the key ingredient.”

On day two, the FSTC’s David Zabrowski participated in the panel discussion “The Future of Restaurant Design” with moderator Joe Carbonara, editor of FE&S Magazine, and panelists Karen Malody, owner and principal of Culinary Options, and Marc Jacobs, partner and executive VP of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. The discussion explored how evolving customer expectations are changing the way restaurants are designed, outfitted, and operated. The one trend that each panelist expressed is that kitchens are becoming more and more flexible in smaller spaces.

Davids_Presentation

(Left to Right) The FSTC’s David Zabrowski, Culinary Options’ Karen Malody, Lettuce Entertain You’s Marc Jacobs, & Foodservice Equipment & Supplies’ Joe Carbonara present “The Future of Restaurant Design”.

The FSTC team had a very successful NRA show this year and looks forward to another year of innovation and collaboration with the food service industry!

Check out our Facebook page to see more pictures from the NRA show: https://www.facebook.com/fishnick.fstc/