Helping the local community not only benefits others but is also a great way to give your restaurant a voice within the local area. Venues that are known for giving back to the community, and being warm in their customer’s eyes, are far more likely to succeed and grow their business.
Chefs can help their community by sourcing products locally, employing local staff and paying a fair wage. These are just a few of the basic options, and there are many other more enterprising ways to help as well.
That’s not to suggest the only reason we should help our community is to grow our business, far from it. If we approach with this mind set our efforts are likely to appear disingenuous and fall short.
However, helping the community and our business are not mutually exclusive concepts. By setting out to genuinely do our bit for the area we operate in, we will be reward by a more loyal customer base. A win-win situation for everyone!
This article aims to highlight the many easy ways that a chef can help their local community.
There are 9 methods on our list. Any chef who is able to implement all of them is almost certain to have a healthy business whilst contributing to their community in a meaningful way; and enjoy some seriously good karma going forward!
Donate Left Over Food
Every region has local food banks that are more than happy to accept goods from local businesses.
Chefs can often find themselves in a position at the end of the day where they have to throw away perfectly good food. This food is edible the following day but it will not be as fresh as their paying customers expect and therefor it ends up in the bin.
Items such as sandwiches are always welcome at food banks. Other places such as homeless shelters will gladly take items such as left over soup and bread. This can be especially useful for restaurants that change their menus daily who have no other option but to bin surplus food at the end of the day.
Partnering with a local food bank, or charity project, is a surefire way of demonstrating our restaurant is a caring member of the local community..
Sell Surplus Food At A Discount
There are many different apps on the market that connect the food service industry with hungry customers. These apps reduce food waste by allowing customers to turn up at a specific time at the end of the day and purchase whatever left over food is available at a discount.
A customer coming to the business to collect surplus food takes away a lot of the friction associated with an employee having to take the left-over food somewhere to donate it. The customer gets a low cost meal, they are now a new customer, and the business gets some of their costs back on the produce.
My favourite app, and the one most widely used in my home town is Too Good To Go it’s completely free to try so there is no reason not to give it a go!
Run Outdoor Events
Chefs can help the community by setting up outdoor events such as a food tent or food festival. This does not have to be a large event, setting up a marquee in the car park and inviting some of the local businesses to come and share their produce is a great way to interact with local people.
If inviting others along sounds a little intimidating, try setting up an outdoor food service station. It is an awesome way of attracting new customers and enhancing the feel of the community.
There is nothing better than walking down my local road and smelling the amazing food being BBQ’d outside the local pub. Inevitably, a small crowd gathers whilst they eat their hot baguettes, and the community feel gets a real boost.
Hire an Apprentice
When a chef takes on a trainee or apprentice chef they are benefiting the local community by giving not only a job to a local person but an entire career opportunity.
Giving someone a career opportunity instead of simply a job allows them to flourish and contribute back to the community. Perhaps one day they will go on to have their own business and employ local people.
Our whole community Eco system relies on people being given these kind of opportunities. Far from training up our own competition we are actually strengthening our position. We are viewed as being confident in our ability and willing to teach. A wide old village elder if you will!
Employ Local Staff
Chefs who employ local staff benefit the community by allowing people to stay in the area and contribute to the local economy, instead of having to move away to find work. This is especially important in more rural areas where jobs are scarcer.
It’s not always possible to attract the best talent locally but we should make it our first port of call to recruit chefs and front of house staff locally wherever possible.
An added benefit to our business is that they are likely to have local family and friends who are more than happy to come to our restaurant to enjoy their loved ones cooking or serving skills!
Paying a Fair Wage
A chef who pays a fair wage to their staff helps the local community. Their employees are more likely to have surplus income which they are then able to put back into the local economy.
Well paid members of staff are not only happier they will talk more highly about our restaurant to the local community. The higher wages should allow staff to have additional income which they can use to visit local shops and food service places.
These shop owners are the very people likely to be our customers if they themselves have additional revenue to spend!
Buy From Local Suppliers
It can be tempting for busy chefs to use larger suppliers for their produce. They are more likely to have all the items in stock that we need and can often offer a cheaper price.
However, a chef who sources their supplies locally helps the community by providing revenue and exposure to that local business.
A method that usually does really well is to name the specific local place a food item comes from on the menu.
- Pork and leek sausages (hand crafted from Dave Giles butchers) with pomme puree and a red wine jus.
Customers reading the menu have a connection in their minds regarding where the food comes from. They enjoy the meal more, and are happy to pay extra as they know we are not just using any old cheap sausages.
As an added bonus they may then visit the butcher to buy other items benefiting their business. In return the butcher recommends our restaurant to their customers! A circle that benefits everyone within it!
Reduce Our Carbon Footprint
Chefs who make an effort to reduce their carbon footprint help the local community by contributing to a cleaner local environment for everyone.
By following many of the tips in this article, such as employing and sourcing ingredients locally, we are actually reducing our carbon footprint at the same time.
Customers in all areas of business are demanding companies do there bit to tackle climate change. More and more we are seeing customers vote with their wallets and not supporting business who are viewed as being poor for the environment.
A chef who takes active steps to demonstrate how they are aware, and reducing their carbon footprint, will be a big hit with the local community and a place customers will choose to support.
Provide Work Experience
Chefs can help their local community by providing work experience to those hoping to become chefs. It can be especially beneficial when they give experience to those people that have been less fortunate in their lives.
A career in catering is a great path way for people from all walks of life. Often we see that those who struggle to function well in main stream society thrive in the kitchen environment!
Opening up our kitchens to give people a chance, perhaps those who have struggled to find employment, or those who have been in trouble in the past, is a wonderful way to contribute to the local area.
In return we often find staff who are so grateful for the opportunity that they seize it, run with it and pay us back for our initial faith in them ten fold.
Being chef is one of the few careers where background and connections are not as important as hard work and dedication. It is important we always maintain this culture!
To Sum Up
As we have shown throughout this post, when we choose to help the local community not only are we doing the right thing morally, we are also actively helping our own business. What could be better than that!?