How do you define “sustainability”? What it boils down to for Chowgirls Killer Catering is: we make mindful decisions that help our world, our business, and our workplace thrive. Here are few ways we surpass expectations in catering and beyond.
Recycling can’t get much easier than it is today. Certainly it takes effort, but once systems are in place, you’d be surprised how much less trash a workplace can generate. At Chowgirls, we successfully divert 97% of our waste from landfill or incineration. Another way to look at those stats is that only 3% of our waste is non recyclable. That puts us 3 points away from Zero Waste!
All of our kitchen waste that isn’t reused for soup or garnish is composted. Nearly all of our food scraps and disposable wares can be composted because we use a commercial compost service in tandem with recycling and trash services from our hauler. I recently met a restauranteur who said they didn’t have room for a compost dumpster. Her ears opened when I explained that she can decrease the size of her trash to one small cart AND that compost service is not taxed. Not only are you saving the world, you’re saving money! :)
All business leaders know it costs less to invest in a current employee than it does to hire and train new people, right? To decrease burn-out and ensure high employee retention at Chowgirls, we pay fair wages and we’ve created a “Culture of Kindness.” We treat our employees with respect and forgiveness, attributes that are often lost in kitchen cultures. To ensure we have a sane environment, we don’t bear the burden, we share it. To makes our jobs satisfying, we are a tribe of strong hard-working people who challenge each other to excellence. And by safe, we mean that we respect each others’ boundaries and differences.
Additionally, we grow our team spirit by promoting wellness. We started The Chowgirls Movement, a workout program for all staff that includes boxing and yoga to build healthy bodies and minds. For our full time employees benefits include a wholesale food purchase stipend and two annual massages. All of these efforts make our company an irresistible place to work. Inevitably if someone doesn’t work hard enough or doesn’t share our values, they usually self-select out of our team.
Chowgirls takes pride in serving a seasonal menu made with local and organic ingredients. We source ingredients that work with the earth, not against it. But our commitment to sustainable sourcing goes beyond the kitchen. From serving equipment to office chairs, we question whether products we used are manufactured with non-toxic, renewable, recyclable materials. For example, although they’re lightweight and durable, we chose to NOT use melamine plates and platters because they are made with formaldehyde that leeches into any hot food that it touches. Why would we want to contaminate all the beautiful food we’ve so thoughtfully prepared?
How our goods are produced and transported makes a big impact on our environmental footprint as well. Are they made locally? In the U.S.? In North America? We made sure our nationally released cookbook was printed in Canada, not China. Even the hoodies we gave our staff for holiday gifts were made in America of recycled materials. The chairs in our offices are restored by a vintage furniture dealer. Even the wood trim at our new headquarters was reclaimed from demolition.
Sometimes it’s as exhausting as it is energizing being so thoughtful and intentional. But again and again, we find it pays off. Clients see a difference in our approach, sensing the love and care that’s put into our food and hospitality. Staff appreciate and uphold our values. And as owners we can have a clear conscience, knowing that we are having a positive impact on the world.