Category — Features

Wasted Hospitality

Wasted Hospitality

Author — Stone Soup

Alesha Bilbrough-Collins of Christchurch’s BearLion Foods lays down a challenge to her fellow restaurateurs.

I really have no idea where to start. Someone once told me when you’re trying to train staff, start with the negatives then end on the positives, so they take away something good and hopefully things will improve.

I don’t think that’s going to work this time round because the reality is our planet is in a pretty shitty state. We can’t just keep talking about doing something about it, then looking at the pretty pics on our phones and thinking everything is alright.


If you still have plastic straws, bags or take away cuntainers in your establishment then seriously, you’re a dick. The great honour we have in the food industry is to respect the amazing produce available and the product we sell. It’s what makes the money and pays the bills. Yet for some fucked up reason many businesses don’t seem to respect or even acknowledge where that produce is coming from.

The one, the ONLY great and glorious MOTHER earth!

So please read on. Learn, educate yourself, and then pass it on to others.

The impact we have on mother earth is huge and once you start noticing I’m not sure if it has an ending because it’s everywhere you look, as a result of everything we do, and it’s scary.

But it’s actually easy to make a change and you can start small. We all just have to ask more questions, care and vote with our hard earned dollars and our conscience in check.

This journey started for me due to chemical poisoning from the agricultural weed killers – glyphosate and asulam – just about ending everything I loved. I knew it was time to open my eyes and make a change.

Chef Alex Atala recently said, “The future of food is asking people not to buy, eat or serve products that don’t meet their ethical beliefs. If we don’t buy products that aren’t produced in a healthy way that is correct for the planet, if we don’t consume those products and say ‘no’ when they are offered to us, then we will create new demand and the market will adjust to it”.


Please, please, please stop wasting the precious resources it took to grow and make the food you serve.

I hate to think how much goes in the bin at some restaurants and hotels. There does seem to be a lot more awareness in the smaller owner-operated businesses as we actually see our money being thrown away! But, from my experience working in high calibre establishments, there were “prep in the morning, throw away if not consumed that day” policies. I really hope this is not still the case.

Reducing menu and portion sizes, set menus and trust the chef is definitely a way forward. Educating your staff properly so they know the suppliers and farmers that the produce comes from; so they know what’s in their fridges, and what needs to be used first; and not being afraid to run things out!

Simple acts like freezing, stocks, soups, crackers and dehydration are great ways of saving goods before they turn. Leaving vegetable skins on when preparing food. Most vegetable skins contain the most nutrients and fibre, remind me why we mostly throw them away? And where do all the bones go? After the flavour of the broths I experienced in Japan, these need to be on all menus. Not to mention their health benefits.

Using every part of the animal or veg is not hard, and it’s inspiring. It’s our responsibility as hospitality professionals, and part of our job, not only to serve but to educate and show people through our food what can be done.

It’s times like these I want to start shouting The Lion King song and getting people to appreciate the circle of life!

Wasted Hospitality


YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT, and it goes without saying that most food these days has unfortunately been through some chemical process. From GE seeds to the contaminated soil, and all the sprays and irradiation.

Go organic, grow your own, ask questions and stop believing in everything on that stupid box in the corner of your lounge.

When you wash dishes, wipe the bench or even your hands with a “must have cleaner” stop and think about the residue. Would you drink these products? It’s frightening to think what our biggest organ, our skin, is absorbing; or the colossal amount of poison ending up in our waterways and ocean. Washing cars with all that wax on, wax off? Ergh don’t get me started…Nah fuck it, that’s what I’m here for!

Two simple, inexpensive products: white vinegar and baking soda will bloody well change your life.

God how many conversations and jokes have I had with chefs over the years when cleaning hot plates with that grill clean, “Ha, this shit will probably kill us one day”, as we all cough and squint.

You know what, it probably already is!

Stop me if you can’t keep up!

Toilets. Toilets are made for flushing your shit not adding to it. Blue discs of death in urinals and some synthetic fragranced lump of earth killer that makes things smell spring fresh with every flush! BULLSHIT I cry! Actually, that would probably be less harmful. Oh, and if you’re worried about someone’s stink ass, I know it’s bad, but we ALL do it and everyone’s shit stinks. An easy fix is some water in a spray bottle with a few drops of essential oil, if you feel you need to spray something. Cheaper than can after can of carcinogens while you’re at it.

The Eco Store sells in bulk, so fill your boots. I’m a one product really can do it all type of gal, what’s the difference between the multitude of oddly coloured goop and liquids anyway?


Stop floating your dollars down the drain on a multitude of things that some sales person says you “have to have”. This is big industry selling CHEMKILLS just to make a dollar. They don’t give a shit about you, your health, your staff, your business, or your customers.

Vinegar is all we have running through the dishwasher at our restaurant. Enough said………..Next

Wasted Hospitality

PLASICK and the rest

This fucker is everywhere!

When you make a purchase and it’s in packaging. The clothes, uniforms and cloths putting all those micro-fibres out into our waterways and precious oceans. When something breaks in your establishment or at home what do you do with it?

Recycling can only do so much, we need to STOP it at the source. How many times do you think we could have wrapped the planet with cling film by now?

Lucky there are companies like Terracycle and Countdown that will now take your spent cling film and soft plastics and recycle them, but surely we can find more ways to stop its constant use and manufacture. Tinfoil can be reused if popped into recycling in some cities, why not ours?

Scrap lining bins with plastic bags, try using paper, or nothing and actually cleaning them at the end of day. Yes it may take longer; it’s not as convenient, but think about the long term, please. Make it a habit like cleaning your teeth. It just has to be done.

Ovens, fridges, batteries, timers, scales, boards, peelers, bottle caps, baking paper, the cutty bit on the baking paper box, squeezy bottles, pens, vivids, chef buttons, sanitary products, magazines, bags, tape, stickers, credit cards, microwaves (hopefully you don’t have one of these, if you do, let me tell you something for nothing – you don’t need it!) scrub brushes, gloves, CHUX CLOTHS…I think you’re getting my point.

We’re all in this together….you can sing it if you like. Little by little, bit by bit, we need to ask questions, query our suppliers, find scrap dealers, and proactively create better systems and better products.

Hemp anybody? Please!

We can turn this mess around, we have to!

If you’re focused on the dollar then think how much you could save. What really needs to go in that big skip that costs you dollars. How much money could you be making from leftovers you currently consider waste? Stop and think about everything: What is it? Why is it? Do I really need it? What is that ingredient I don’t recognise? What is that number? Will it affect the health of my child? The planet? Myself?

Now I may have come across a bit angry, I know… and well, I can’t help but get worked up because I care. I care for you. I care for my nieces and nephews. I care for the future and our planet: Mother Earth.

I know how it feels to not have my health, with CHEMKILLS being the cause, and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. WE ALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO FEEL GREAT!

When I eventually go outside to take that big breath to calm myself down, I want that breath to keep me alive, not to poison me. When I go to my local beach to walk my dog, I don’t want to see plastic waste and end up picking up other people’s rubbish. When I go to the stupermarket, I don’t want to see plasick wrapped produce.

Come on 100% PURE NZ…

More community fridges!

Subsidies for organic and not mass produced crap!

Happy Cow anyone?!

Buy local and seasonal, we aren’t meant to eat tomatoes and avocados 12 months of the year.

Polyesters enter our waterways, stop buying and wearing them. Hello hemp, organic cotton, wool.

Carry bags, we all have them, so fucken carry them!

If you don’t know what it is, don’t buy it, don’t eat it, and don’t feed it to you children.

Support those companies that give a shit.


The Lion

Ready for action? Here are a couple of recipes.


I’ve found this great for beetroot or oil stains on work uniforms and cloths.

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 scoop earth friendly washing powder

Place stained items in a washing machine with above ingredients. Set on hot wash and once your machine reaches water full point, let agitate for a minute or two. This will get everything all mixed up nicely and ready to brew. Place machine on pause and leave overnight or at least 12 hours. Continue wash after this time and hang to dry as per normal. Ta DA!


Try digging it out first, works a treat! Or learn what it is and you will more than likely find that you can eat it!

If you’re wanting to clean up a few stray weeds in cracked paths for example, I suggest the following:

1 litre white vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon earth friendly dish wash liquid

Mix together in a spray bottle. You may need to reapply a few times for the tougher customers.

The smell may lead to you wanting to consume a bag of salt and vinegar chips, you’ve been warned!

Illustrations by Hugo Christian-Slane.