7 Hotel Kitchen essentials to achieve the sustainability goal
New-age hotel kitchens are transforming themselves into an eco-friendly space, without comprising on culinary innovations and the service quotient
Given the mammoth size of the hotel industry worldwide, the stakes of maintaining sustainable standards in the hospitality business are immensely high, particularly in the face of global climate change. Increasingly, a hotel’s commitment to the environment and sustainability is a determining factor when guests choose where to stay and dine. While the hospitality industry is bound to put out the best in service standards, the wasteful use of resources is being questioned. Commercial buildings and hotels are known to damage the environment far more than any domestic setup. However, with growing awareness, several hotels are adopting various sustainability measures. Here is how some of them are greening their kitchen operations.
Ergonomically planned kitchens with right equipment adds to the positive work-flow and allows enough space for movement
Creating eco-friendly systems:
The Orchid Hotel, Mumbai, India’s first certified ecotel, has incorporated several sustainable initiatives into their systems— such as efficient solid waste management and energy conservation practices, amongst others. The hotel’s vermicomposting unit recycles the food waste generated within its kitchens, which are fitted with devices designed to save water.
Sustainable operating practices:
Tulshi Naik, director - F&B, Novotel Hyderabad Airport
A commercial kitchen can achieve great results if it follows sustainable operating practices— from procurement to production. At Novotel Hyderabad eco-friendly packing material and cutlery are used for takeaway orders, says its director of food and beverage, Tulshi Naik. “We have a considerable size of crew base who order for parcel meals, which are taken along on flights. Our banqueting guests are offered options to choose between RO water stations and PET water bottles. At our restaurants, we monitor the food patterns of our guests and design the buffet menu so they have access to both comfort food and experiential food, thus reducing the wastage.” At Sheraton Grand Bangalore at Brigade Gateway, vegetable and fruit peels are used in the property gardens as manure. Yash Mathur, the hotel's executive sous chef adds, “The good peels are used in the vegetable stock. We try to throw away as less as possible. We also make sure that we don’t buy endangered seafood as a practice, and only buy seafood that can be bought without any legal complications.”
Siddhartha Sarmah, executive sous chef, Novotel Pune
The use of seasonal and the local: A menu should have the right balance of seasonal and experimental food to appeal to guests. Siddhartha Sarmah, executive sous chef, Novotel Pune says, “We try to vary our menu and include seasonal highlights in our dishes. It is essential to consider local and organic products while designing the menu. We try and cook fresh dishes without using processed and convenience food. We also ensure that the dishes on the menu allow for crossover usage of ingredients.” Citing the advantages of sourcing locally, Ivan Chieregatti, executive chef at Hyatt Regency Delhi, adds, “To increase sustainability, food should be sourced locally wherever possible to lessen the energy used in production, transport and storage, as well as for improving its quality. Using pure, fresh and unadulterated food will also help in garnering more customers as people become more aware of where their food comes from.”
Chef Ivan Chieregatti, executive chef, Hyatt Regency, Delhi
Hyatt Regency Delhi sources ingredients locally as well as from other countries. “To ensure fresh produce, the owner of the hotel has developed a farm, where we grow some hard-to get ingredients. We also have a well-developed network of local producers who produce specifically for our needs. The farm produces over 100 vegetables and fruits such as oyster mushrooms, knol khol, Swiss chard, curly kale, purple cauliflower and watercress to name a few. A lot of our products are sourced from other countries to ensure that the dishes we serve are authentic, but the suppliers are subject to a stringent selection process to meet our exacting standards.
Chef Neeraj Rawoot, executive chef, Sofitel Mumbai BKC
Some of these ingredients include the bullet chillies and the duck sauce, which are imported from Beijing while the pasta, strong flour and cheese come from Europe,” adds Chieregatti. Sofitel Mumbai BKC plumps for food components and ingredients that are grown using organic farming methods. Neeraj Rawoot, executive chef, Sofitel Mumbai BKC, says, “We highly encourage the use of food components that are cultivated naturally, without the use of harmful pesticides and preservatives. A majority of our ingredients are locally sourced from in and around the state, while some come from different parts of the country. For instance, we source mushrooms from SilverSpot/ Vegex, who provide us with freshly cultivated button, oyster and Portobello varieties.”
For a hospitality business, reducing energy and food costs is a straightforward way to improve their bottom-line without impacting guest experience. At Novotel Hyderabad Airport, Naik says the culinary team has implemented checks and measures at various stages of production, starting from menu planning to plating, so that they could reduce wastage. Equally important is to manage water resources and the hotel starts with planning and preventive maintenance, as well as Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) operations, right up to installing and successfully running an Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP), measures that help reduce wastage of water. There is proactive maintenance of all equipment, to avoid any excessive energy consumption and ensure a higher life for the machines.”
Reducing energy and food costs is a straightforward way to improve the hotel's bottom-line
Novotel Hotels focus on spreading awareness about sustainability amongst the team members with regular training, checks on food waste and publishing the daily waste generated. “We frequently incentivise our guests with a ‘Clean Plate’ contest, which motivates them to avoid wasting food,” contends Naik. According to Julian Ayers, general manager, Hyatt Regency Delhi, “The importance of conserving water and electricity is embedded deeply within our philosophy. Some of the steps we have taken at the hotel include: Water leaks are reported immediately. If not reported within 24 hours, they are escalated to the department manager. All steamers have signs indicating the pre-heat time to temperature. The equipment is not turned on until required. Food items are not thawed under running water but placed in the refrigerator the day before. All kitchen taps are tightly closed when not in use.” Other sustainable policies followed at the hotel: rainwater harvesting, a project the hotel implemented in 1998. Ayers says, “Presently, we have three active rainwater harvesting pits. In 2017, we started offering recycled water to NDMC (the local municipal corporation) for their public gardening needs. Additionally, the
water flow rate in the guest rooms has been reduced. We are also recycling 100% of the water used in the hotel through STP plant. Besides, we have a contract with a government-approved vendor which collect dry waste for its correct disposal, and for the wet waste we have installed a biogas plant of the capacity of 500 kg/day.”At Sheraton Grand Bangalore, there are sensor-based hand washing sinks in the kitchen to negate any water wastage. “There is also a focus on reducing energy consumption by switching off electrical equipment such as the deck oven, tilting pans and pass counters.”
Julian Ayers, general manager, Hyatt Regency Delhi
To cut down on cost, Novotel Hyderabad Airport leans in for local purchases that match the hotel standards. “Considering our location, we have successfully experimented with growing some expensive spices and vegetables that are not frequently available at the hotel. Last year, we grew more than 200kg of broccoli at the hotel herb garden.”
Chefs are growing produce in their herb gardens to ensure the freshness of the food
Sheraton Grand Bangalore Hotel has an unusual method of reducing cost. Mathur reveals, “We strongly recommend and practice batch cooking. We balance our weekly menu as per the reservations and depend more on the fresh and locally produced ingredients. Besides, we avoid using very expensive and fancy ingredients, particularly if it does not add any nutrition value to the dish. Besides, our focus is always on monitoring the cost of the buffet and balancing the menu.” Achieve energy efficiency using new-age equipment: The kind of kitchen equipment used in the kitchen plays a rather large role in the saving of energy. A sustainable kitchen can be achieved by focusing on energy-efficient cooking, a goal that can be attained by the use of the latest energy-efficient products. Neeraj Rawoot, executive chef, Sofitel Mumbai BKC, says, “ Appliances such as refrigerators, water heaters and dishwashers have all become energy efficient and need 60-70 per cent less energy than usual. For instance, an efficient dishwasher can be a major contributor to save water as it uses less water than usual.” According to Nitin Gupta, f&b director, Novotel Pune, it is essential to use equipment such as sensor lights, water-saving faucets and fixtures, and energy star appliances to turn kitchens into models of sustainability.
Chieregatti reveals a set of standards followed by Hyatt Regency Delhi to save both energy and water in the kitchen:
- Boilers serving the kitchen equipment are turned off after working hours.
- Variable speed kitchen ventilation control sensors are not
- blocked to manually increase the exhaust speed.
- The burners on stoves are turned off when not in use.
- The kitchen equipment is started up and shut down based on daily pre-heat and turn-off schedules.
- All kitchen equipment is labelled with optimal pre-heat time to temperature.
- All walk-in freezers and coolers have automatic door closers installed.
Designing for efficiency and sustainability:
The kitchen design is an essential element of sustainable kitchens; unplanned kitchens not just lead to monetary damages but can also prove to be hazardous. The kitchen in a hotel should be well planned to avoid any inconvenience caused to the staff, enabling them ease of operations. Rawoot adds, “The traditional design of kitchens is being eschewed in favour of modern live kitchens. A lot of thought goes into the design of the live kitchens as guests can witness the entire cooking procedure. They are a popular culinary trend involving the entire cooking procedure being carried out in the open. This requires the chefs’ team to display utmost cleanliness in all operations, prompt rectification of any spillages and efficient waste disposal.” Besides, in hotels where space is at a minimum, the kitchen has to be ergonomically planned with the right equipment so that there is enough space for movement during operations.
“Setting up a functional/equipment-wise operation not just saves time during the preparation process but also adds to the positive work-flow in the kitchen,” says Rawoot. The implementation of eco-friendly policies are not just helping establishments to save on cost and resources but are making operations sustainable in the long run. Technology has played a significant role in helping hotels go green. Hotels can now monitor, control and manage energy and other resources far more efficiently. Besides, technology is educating customers on using resources such as water and technology judiciously.
THE HOTEL INDUSTRY’S WASTEFUL WAYS, IN NUMBERS
Research by different institutes and organisations has thrown up some crucial data.
- On average, a hotel releases between 160kg and 200kg of Co2 per square metre of room floor area, per year.
- The water consumption per guest, per night, is between 170 and 440 litres in a five-star hotel.
- On average, hotels produce one kg of waste per guest, per night.
- In a hotel’s kitchen, 40% of the energy is consumed by to cook and store food, while 33% of the energy cost is spent on heating the food and water.