5 ways to go green at your next catered event

Take a look at these sustainable ideas shared during Catersource + The Special Event last week in Austin, Texas.
Paul and Dana Buchanan
Paul and Dana Buchanan of Primal Alchemy speak at Catersource + The Special Event. | Photo courtesy of Benita Gingerella

Sustainability was one of the topics discussed at Catersource + The Special Event last week in Austin, Texas. Conference attendees heard from catering operators on how they keep sustainability top of mind when working events. Here are some ideas they shared to bring to your operation.

1. Center your menu around the seasons

At California-based catering company Primary Alchemy, owners Paul and Dana Buchanan make an effort to source ingredients from local farmers. The team also uses generic language on its menus to give them flexibility around what’s available at the farmers market.

A salad, for example, is listed on the menu as having organic greens and seasonal fruit instead of describing exactly what ingredients are used.

2. Dehydrate or infuse leftover herbs

Breathe new life into leftover herbs by dehydrating or infusing them. At catering company Culinary Crafts in Park City, Utah, the team uses a dehydrator to create dried herbs. They’ve also started making their own infused oils using leftover herbs and spices as well.

Not only are the oils more sustainable, but they also add fun color to the plate, said Chef de Cuisine Robert Mendoza.

“When you have a really vibrant green oil or a nice red paprika or a nice turmeric oil, that looks really good,” he said.

3. Partner with livestock farmers

For leftover food or ingredients that can’t be donated to food banks or reused in the kitchen, Culinary Crafts partners with livestock farmers in the area so they can use the scraps as feed. In the past, the team’s leftover food has been used to feed pigs, chickens and more.

4. Switch to reusable signage

Sustainability is not limited to the menu. Operators can also go green by using reusable signage. The team at Primal Alchemy, for example, uses chalkboards at all its events since they can simply be wiped down after use and then reused.

5. Replace gloves with handwashing stations

Handwashing stations are at every event that Primal Alchemy caters to encourage employees to use gloves sparingly.  

“I don't want [employees] to really use gloves unless they're handling something acidic, raw meat, seafood or something they might be allergic to,” said Paul Buchanan.

Along with being more sustainable, hand washing stations are often more sanitary than gloves, he said, since the latter can sometimes make employees less stringent about hygiene.

“I think that latex gloves, in general, are a false sense of security and if somebody puts one on, they will just keep that same glove on for hours,” he noted.

Catersource + The Special Event is presented by FoodService Director parent company, Informa.



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