You’re constantly adjusting your menu to meet the changing needs and desires of your customers. You’re tuning into the fact that your customers may have a variety of dietary restrictions or preferences, offering meals that are vegetarian, vegan, organic and gluten-free. Restaurant goers are becoming more health conscious and increasingly aware of the risks associated with unhealthy eating and choosing restaurants that are pricier, yet offer high-quality and tasty food. In a recent study, “Studying a diverse group of consumers, they found that quality and freshness of food tends to be more important than pricing and deals.”
As people get busier, they don’t always have time to make high-quality, home cooked meals. Instead, they go to their favorite restaurants expecting to be served a meal that is equally wholesome without the time and effort of making it themselves. Franchise Help notes that,”Food quality and preparation at traditional fast food restaurants has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years and been shown to have negative health consequences, coincident with a general change in consumer attitudes towards healthy diet and lifestyle.” Your restaurant can excel, if you can master this intersection between health and convenience.
But what does “healthy” mean to this increasingly wellness-focused consumer base? Research shows that more and more customers are using words like “sustainable” and “natural” to define healthy food options, and that interest in these new criteria have risen by 20-50% since 2010. Customers are becoming more educated on where their food comes from and how it’s prepared.
In order to appeal to your more educated customers and offer them your highest quality meals, it’s imperative to consider eco-friendly cookware. Many premium restaurants have already started adopting eco-friendly pots and pans to enforce their focus on serving high quality, sustainable and organic meals. But nowadays, feasibility is more widespread as eco-friendly cookware is less expensive and options and brands available are broader to meet your restaurant’s cooking style and budget.
We know customers want it, here are five more reasons to consider eco-friendly cookware and why you should want it in your kitchen too. “Sustainability is more than a fad, it’s the new way of doing business in the restaurant industry,” said Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. Addressing environmental issues at your restaurant can be a step-by-step process that will more than pay-off in higher consumer and employee satisfaction, a reduced environmental footprint and saved money on operating costs.
1. Eco-Friendly Cookware is Safer
When reviewing cookware options for your restaurant, forefront should be the possibility of chemicals and toxins leaching into your food with traditional options, especially when high temperatures are involved. This phenomenon is far from safe for your cooks as well as your customers. Not only can these toxins leach into the food you serve, but they can also leach into the environment, which can cause poor air quality to circulate around your restaurant. Eco-friendly cookware is often non-reactive so that acids cannot be released into your food during the cooking process. It can also enhance the quality, taste, and flavor of your food, attracting more customers to visit your restaurant.
Recently, a major concern has been that Teflon non-stick cookware is dangerous and releases chemicals and fumes that can harm your staff, customers and the environment. According to Annette McDermott’s article, Teflon is believed to contain Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA). While the final verdict is still out and research is conflicting on whether or not PFOA is dangerous, the Environmental Protection Agency admits that PFOA is “likely to be carcinogenic to humans”. Not something you want in your fresh, natural, or organic cooking process. Why take the risk with such great alternatives currently available to restaurants?
2. Good Public Relations
There’s an ever-growing group of restaurant goers that appreciate restaurants that are committed to environmental responsibility. By walking the walk and advertising your sustainable initiatives you can not only retain current customers, but also attract new ones. According to the National Restaurant Association, over 58%of customers report that
they’re likely to make a restaurant choice based on its environmental sustainability efforts. Additionally, according to a survey prepared for the Green Restaurant Association, 79% of diners stated they would be more likely to dine at a restaurant that is green-certified. Those numbers are hard to ignore. You must make your invisible green practices more visible by communicating with your customers. Make your customers aware of environmental issues in the restaurant industry to showcase the steps your restaurant is taking toward being more environmentally friendly. Spread your story.
3. Eco-friendly Cookware is Easy to Use and Maintain
The highest quality materials are used to design eco-friendly pots and pans, thus they will not tarnish or degrade easily. Plus, most eco-friendly cookware does not require any special cleaning. Most options can simply be washed with water and soap, and/or placed in the dishwasher. You might be concerned that alternatives to traditional non-stick technologies will leave you with a hopeless mess of food stuck to your pans, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are many alternatives to traditional non-stick cookware such PFOA-free Thermolon™, cast iron which requires little maintenance, and stainless steel and ceramic cookware that can be placed in the dishwasher.
4. Green Cookware is More Affordable than Ever
This remains, and always will be a very important factor in your cookware purchasing decisions. As green cookware is becoming a more common choice as the safest cookware option, prices are dropping dramatically. Remember to consider quality and durability. The longer a piece of kitchenware lasts, the less often you need to replace it, saving you money in the long-run. Look out for hard-wearing material like cast iron or stainless steel. You can also work with an environmental consultant like those offered by the Green Restaurant Association to to help you access and secure rebates and incentive programs. Tip- When it’s finally time to say goodbye to older cookware, seek out organizations that offer take-back programs so that they can be properly disposed of.
5. There’s a Wide Selection of Eco-Friendly Cookware Products to Choose From
Depending on your budget and taste, you can choose from a wide variety of eco-friendly cookware options keeping in mind that durability and safety remain two key factors in your overall decision. Here is a quick run-down of the most popular options.
- Stainless Steel: often recommended as one of the safest choices in eco-friendly cookware. It’s also durable and easy to clean, but keep an eye out for dings and pits and cooking with acids like wine, lemon and tomato as this can compromise safety. Tip- don’t use abrasive materials when cleaning stainless steel cookware as it can pull off small amounts of chromium and nickel. Also, make sure none of your chefs or sous-chefs have nickel allergies!
- Cast Iron: can be made from recycled materials and is incredibly durable. When properly seasoned they take on non-stick properties and also require less soap and water to clean. Cast iron may even improve the health of your meals by releasing small amounts of iron into your food. (Considered a healthy food additive by the FDA). This thick cookware is unmatched for even heat distribution, but it can take some extra time (and energy) to heat up and it’s heavy!
- Ceramic: is made from natural clay cooked in a kiln. While cadmium content used to be a concern, modern manufacturers have discontinued its use, eliminating this danger. It is also very flexible and can be used on the range, in the oven, for serving and saving, plus it’s non-stick and dishwasher safe. Ceramic cookware can be slightly more expensive, but it lasts forever. Many cooks like it because it offers the even heat distribution of cast iron, without the seasoning process.
- Anodized Aluminum: has been treated to form a coating that seals the metal. Unlike Stainless Steal, it doesn’t react to acidic foods so it’s great for cooking with any ingredients. Many chefs consider this to be the idea non-stick, scratch-resistant cooking surface.
- Non-Stick Alternatives: new technologies have paved the way for safer Teflon-like alternatives that retain amazing non-stick properties without the questionable toxins. One great example is GreenPan. Manufactured in a responsible way, GreenPan products are safe up to high temperatures with no risk of toxic fumes or blistering coatings.
Maybe you’re ready to recycle your old cookware now, or looking to upgrade in the next year. Either way, keep your values and customer promise in mind. By cooking with green equipment you can ensure the most organic, natural product is being delivered to your concerned clients.
From fire to table, you’ve got a great story to tell and first-rate meals to serve.
Image Credit: GreenPan