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Zero Waste Catering: Smash Events has Food Waste Reduction Down to a Science

Eliminating food waste translates to tasty meals for the lucky animals on Liz Pence’s Western North Carolina farm. As operations manager at local catering company Smash Events, Liz uses the food scraps generated by her company as the main food source for her two pigs, Gilbert and Collards, and also gives some to her chickens. (The leftovers looked so good when I was in their kitchen that I almost reached in and grabbed a snack for myself!)  When Liz brings event leftovers and kitchen scraps home, her children help sort the compostable cups and other items from the edibles, then she portions the food into gallon bags for her animals’ to consume. 

Smash Events owners Ashley and Nestor Teran have been intentional in creating a nearly zero-waste, sustainable business model. With a deep understanding of how events work and what clients want, they anticipate how much each group is likely to consume then order food carefully, planning for special-event portion control to minimize leftovers. 

Even the system they have in place for serving food — staff members dish out portions to diners, offering side items first — is with an eye to minimizing waste. Diners can come back for seconds, but this serving style keeps folks from putting too much on their plates that might go to waste. 

Smash Events also freezes and saves any excess meat, cheese, bread, and sauces, and prepared foods still untouched at the end of an event are offered to guests and staff. Anything that’s not consumed on site or taken home by the customers is made available to Food Connection at the end of each weekend for distribution as delicious meals to folks seeking food assistance.

Food that’s left on the either compostable or ceramic plates gets scraped into a bin for Liz’s farm animals. Drinks are served in glass or compostable cups, and even the used cooking oil goes to Blue Ridge Biofuels to live a second life as a fuel source. There’s almost no garbage at the end of a Smash event!

By Marc Rudow

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