Making data and environmental measurement work for chefs
It’s a chef's role to make delicious meals, first and foremost. So we know that to decarbonise recipes, food related GHG emission data and culinary staff need to work hand in hand.
We rely on the chefs' ability to record recipes precisely, either directly on our platform or within their business procurement systems. Using a CSV file from their system allows them to upload their recipes in bulk to the Foodsteps platform, removing the manual workload. This enables us to efficiently analyse their ingredients and recipes in bulk, relieving them of the manual workload. Our goal is to ensure that this process is seamless and not burdensome for the chefs, emphasising the importance of a smooth and hassle-free experience, allowing them to focus on creating delicious and nutritious recipes.
We greatly value the chefs' skill in accurately documenting recipes, whether they choose to do so directly on our platform or within their business procurement systems.
Helping chefs and culinary staff go above and beyond
Traditional chefs’ recipes sometimes lack key details needed to identify the true environmental impact of a dish - like on a simple level ingredient origins and specific cooking appliances used to more complex information such as farming techniques & processing methods. When Foodsteps works with chefs and culinary staff, we strive to assist them in identifying these essential data points, enabling us to enhance the recipe's depth with a wealth of data and information, going beyond mere kitchen replication. In our engagement with food service and catering businesses, chefs have shown a strong curiosity and desire to explore these additional layers, leading to a collaborative learning journey where some chefs played a pivotal role.
Bridging the knowledge gap from kitchen to data dashboard
Training and education within our partner organisations is a key ingredient to success. During our decarbonisation workshop with one of our partners, we brought together chefs to enhance their understanding of carbon emissions, particularly as it relates to their menus. One powerful change we identified they could make at the recipe level is replacing 30% beef mince with lentils, which can reduce the carbon footprint of a bolognese dish by a remarkable 77%*. For many chefs who have worked with our platform, entering the recipes and seeing the range of insights per recipe and ingredient meant that they can increasingly ask themselves key questions which influence the impact of the food they cook, allowing them to take practical steps to reduce the carbon emissions at the recipe level.
Some of the chefs we met along the way have since used their curiosity and creativity to come up with novel recipes which seriously shift the environmental impact while allowing their guests to continue eating delicious meals. It's those chefs who make us stop and stare in awe. More importantly, it's those chefs we like to see growing and educating the chefs of the future.
We also recognise that not every chef or customer wants to adopt a completely new diet - for example, giving up meat entirely - so we explored through our platform how small adjustments could lower the impact of a dish. This doesn't necessarily mean going completely vegetarian; even minor changes, such as swapping beef for pork mince could make a difference. In the aforementioned decarbonisation workshop, our carbon experts calculated that if our client swapped beef mince with pork mince can reduce the carbon footprint of your bolognese by 59%.*
How does this translate into real chefs cooking lower carbon-impactful meals?
For example, Compass Group UK & Ireland has, in their B&I sector, successfully reformulated 12 of their best-selling dishes to decrease meat content by 40%, such as spaghetti bolognese, where they replaced 60% of the meat. Rees Bramwell, Head of Nutrition & Sustainability at B&I within the Compass Group UK & Ireland, explains:
“Our climate impact report showed that we reduced carbon emissions by 36.11% from animal protein since 2019, and we reported a 28% reduction in emissions from meat. They (our) chefs have embraced it (the new system for measuring). There has been no compromise on taste, quality or nutritional value, meaning sales and customer feedback have been consistently strong post-reformulation.”
What comes next?
World Chefs Day is a celebration of empowering the next generation. We have every expectation that the chefs we've collaborated with, the pioneers of carbon assessments, will generously pass on their knowledge and illustrate how they've utilised carbon impact insights to transform their menus. This is how we envision environmental considerations, encompassing more than just GHG emissions, will become a standard practice for the emerging generation of chefs.
Footnotes: *(Note this change was estimated based on UK beef, pork and lentil sourcing specific to that client). All calculations are based on our robust methodology which you can find out more about via our FAQs