Reducing Food Waste in Sports Stadiums
By Chef Ryan Craig
At 10 years old, I knew I wanted to be a chef. Growing up in Genoa, Illinois, I had a different introduction to food than most. I grew up surrounded by farms with agriculture all around me, and I had the unique opportunity to truly appreciate the lifecycle of food. I had a front-row seat to watch not only robust agricultural practices but also large-scale food waste reduction techniques. Soon, I went on to culinary school where I graduated with high honors, excited to get started on my career. Fast forward a few years, I’m the Executive Chef for Levy – a restaurant and hospitality company that provides food and beverage to major entertainment and sports venues – at Guaranteed Rate Field, the Chicago White Sox baseball stadium. I focus on premium areas including suites and clubs, serving Chicago White Sox fans on game days.
At Guaranteed Rate Field we have been able to significantly reduce waste by incorporating different procedures. In club spaces, my team added ovens and stovetops to cook dishes fresh and on-demand at chef tables, which has led to accurately serving the portions needed and not over-preparing. We took a closer look at fan consumption habits and used data to accurately supply our hot dog stands with toppings. Our team also evaluated recipes to ensure we are properly submitting food orders for what we need. We even discuss food waste in our pre-shift meetings with our culinary staff because Levy emphasizes that all team members should be invested and aware.
Whether you work in a restaurant, baseball stadium, or just cooking at home, I encourage you to evaluate how you use and dispose of food. It’s easy to find ways to reduce food waste. I suggest using vegetable scraps for compost or vegetable stock and being mindful of your grocery list to only buy what you need, to avoid throwing away unused produce later. Growing up, I was lucky to be shown a different side of food through farming. I am so grateful for what it taught me. That perspective impacted the role I have today and how I think about food waste at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Chef Ryan Craig is the Executive Chef for Levy at Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the Chicago White Sox.