Award-winning head chef Willem Schaafsma runs three restaurants in the Netherlands. He finds creative ways to keep food waste to a minimum. As a result, purchases are reduced and margins are 5% higher than at other restaurants.
Willem Schaafsma grew up on a farm and learned to treat food and the environment with respect from a young age. He eventually decided to become a chef. While working at a number of reputable restaurants, he was surprised by the thoughtless way mounds of food were thrown away every night.
A choice of set menus
Schaafsma has run his own restaurant, Eindeloos (‘Endless’), in the northern city of Leeuwarden since 2010, working with local and organic products. He has succeeded in keeping food waste to a bare minimum, in part by offering his guests set menus instead of à la carte. The dishes change frequently, depending on what is in season and locally available. Restaurant Eindeloos won Gault Milliau’s Sustainable Restaurant of the Year award in 2016.
Eindeloos offers fine dining and serves only the best cuts of meat. To target a different market segment and allow Schaafsma to use cheaper cuts of meat Schaafsma opened two new restaurants in Leeuwarden in 2017. As a result, not a single part of the animal is wasted.
Schaafsma also caters events and says he finds catering and buffets the biggest challenge to reducing food. He tries to reduce waste by asking customers beforehand how many grams of food per guest they would like to provide and by serving a limited number of dishes at buffets. “Any leftovers go to the homeless shelter,” he adds.
“Any leftover food goes to the homeless shelter”- Willem Schaafsma, Restaurant Eindeloos
Schaafsma's sustainable working method has led to a 30% reduction in the amount of vegetables, meat and fish he has to purchase. As a result, Eindeloos's gross margin is some 5% higher than that of other restaurants. While Schaafsma is not motivated by the financial benefit, focusing on reducing food waste does clearly help businesswise.
Head chef Willem Schaafsma
Plan of action
For restaurants that are keen to reduce their food waste, Schaafsma recommends first identifying how much food they purchase and how much they throw out. The next step is deciding whether there is sufficient knowledge and expertise in-house to actually reduce food waste. “To make a plan of action, you also need to have enough freedom to maneuver,” he adds. “Such as only offering a daily menu or a chef's menu. That’s the best way for a head chef to breathe new life into his residual ingredients.”