An Executive Chef at one of Birmingham’s leading conferencing venues has introduced a new vegan-focused menu pack to help tackle food waste in the conferencing sector.
Aaron Johnson-Waters, who heads up catering operations for Amadeus at the Vox in Birmingham, has curated a new menu for the venue with 45% vegan ingredients, the production of which is designed to reduce food waste.
I found that veganism on the whole is such a small part of menu design in the sector. Our menu pack is now 45% vegan and we pride ourselves on that.Aaron Johnson-Waters
He said: “I’ve been working on this menu pack for a long time and it’s something I’m really proud of - it’s completely different to what I’ve done before. My starting point was the environment and how we can reduce food waste – and what better time to launch than Food Waste Action Week.
“I found that veganism on the whole is such a small part of menu design in the sector. It tends to be non-existent, having to request a vegan option. Our menu pack is now 45% vegan and we pride ourselves on that.
“Our research suggests that by creating only meat and vegan options we reduce food waste post-event. From my perspective, as a chef, it’s all about educating our guests and clients on vegan food and its benefits. I’m a vegan champion and feel so passionately about it.”
The environmentally friendly menu pack is a result of a lot of hard work behind the scenes and in the supply chain, with Aaron and his team working closely with suppliers to monitor and improve on the venue’s carbon footprint.
He explained: “We’re always looking at new ways to refine our methods and reduce our carbon footprint. We’ve replaced older vehicles for more environmentally friendly ones and looked at things as simple as choosing more efficient routes to reduce emissions, it’s all about having a smart supply chain that limits food miles, that’s been a large focus. We’ve also been focusing on driving down use of plastics, with the plastic packaging we do use being 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable.”
A focus on food waste reduction has been crucial to the Amadeus offering across all venues. A pilot of Winnow technology at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Birmingham has resulted in the caterer reducing food waste by a third, with the project having now been rolled out at other NEC Group venues including the Vox and the NEC.
The partnership has seen fantastic results and is going from strength to strength, making an annualised saving of almost 97,000 meals at the ICC. Food waste saved in the same period totalled 2,231kg, saving 9,592kg of CO2 emissions.
Mark Charlampowicz, General Manager at the Vox, said: “We’re always trying to shake things up and be innovative at our venue and this is just another example of that.
“Clients have been massively receptive too. We work alongside each client to create an offering suited to their needs. We’re seeing more clients value this level of personalisation, with around 60% of clients choosing to theme for food for their event.
“We hope this, teamed with our investments in food waste technology, will help improve our offering while limiting our impact on the environment.”
Statistics from WRAP’s Food Waste Action Week suggest that 81% of UK citizens are concerned about climate change, but only 32% see a clear link with food waste, with 30% of global CO2e greenhouse gases being created from the production and distribution of food.
Amadeus has a strong relationship with WRAP having signed up to support the delivery of the UK Food Waste Reduction (FWR) Roadmap last year.
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