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Culinary professor sustains environmental message

Culinary professor sustains environmental message

Chris Koetke is on a mission to teach as many people as possible about the sustainability of sustainability. As Dean of Kendall College’s school of culinary arts, he has for a number of years instructed students on the finer points of eco-friendly operations, and now, in a partnership with the National Restaurant Association, he is showing members of the restaurant industry how easy it is to be green, too.

Why has Kendall College been so proactive in promoting sustainability within the restaurant industry?

If I’m educating the next generation of foodservice professionals, I need to ask what they need to know for the future, what the big things to impact the industry will be. We think one of those big things is sustainability, a critical force that will define and change the foodservice industry over the next decade and more. With that in mind, we thought we needed to take this message to the industry at large. Many in foodservice want to take steps toward being sustainable, but a lot of them don’t know how to or are not informed. They’re so busy they don’t have time to research it. We thought we could help share what we have learned with them.

Do you feel you have learned everything you need to know about sustainability?

This is a journey that never has an end. You never get to a point where you say, “Aha, I’m now sustainable.” Technology is changing; the world is changing. It’s not like you ever get to the point where you rest on your laurels. Putting new aerates on your faucets is one small step. Sustainability is a big topic and encompasses a lot. Our mission is to pull together different resources and bring that to the restaurant industry.

How can you go green without investing a lot of money?

In terms of behavior, how many times do [employees] walk into the restaurant and turn everything on at once? Do you need everything on, all the ranges working, the HVAC on? Do you have a schedule of when things are turned on or off? Most of the time, [workers] walk in, turn the ranges and hoods on and go have a cup of coffee. And do you need to leave the neon sign outside your business on 24 hours a day? Those signs use up a lot of energy. People need to reassess some of their habits. There’s a million things you can do.

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