Based in Livonia, Michigan, the 40-year-old Culinary Arts program at Schoolcraft College is one of the most respected in the nation. Its graduates are employed in every aspect of the foodservice industry, from kitchen operations to business management. Employers range from the most prestigious restaurants to national chains and institutions. In April 2003, Schoolcraft
dedicated a brand-new facility, complete with 11 kitchens for the Culinary Arts program's 125 students. Each kitchen is equipped with an InSinkErator SS-300 food waste disposer and the InSinkErator Aqua Saver system. Certified Master Chef Kevin Gawronski of Schoolcraft spent more than two years researching the products and equipment to be incorporated in the facility, and considers food waste management to be an essential part of the education of anyone pursuing a career in the foodservice industry.
"In our old kitchens, only some of the sinks had disposers," said Gawronski. "So, food waste was tossed in the trash or carried, dripping, to a disposer equipped sink. Carrying waste around the kitchen was messy and took time away from more productive instruction. And waste that ended up in the trash added to removal costs, and had the potential to attract pests and create unpleasant smells. With the new kitchens, I insisted on a disposer at every workstation. The Aqua Saver was a bonus I didn't know existed until I talked to InSinkErator."
The Aqua Saver system was designed specifically for use with InSinkErator disposers, and reduces the amount of water used in the disposal process by up to 70 percent. Aqua Saver senses the load of the disposer and regulates water flow automatically, to provide the right amount of water required for optimum performance. Over time, this translates to significant savings of hundreds, even thousands of dollars, depending on local water costs. Some users report that their Aqua Saver system has paid for itself in as little as three months.
The Aqua Saver system is available for new installations such as the Schoolcraft project, or for retrofit with existing InSinkErator disposers and controls.
"Our program focuses on best practices in every aspect of foodservice management," Chef Gawronski continued. "As you'd expect, there's a heavy emphasis on the art of cooking and presentation, including international cuisine, pastries, baking, butchery, charcuterie (preparation of sausages and other dressed meats)...even ice carving. But we also offer courses on Dining Room Service, Storeroom Operations and other disciplines that contribute to an efficient and profitable business operation.
"Cleanliness is critical in the foodservice industry, so we consider Culinary Sanitation to be a very important course. From day one, we reinforce the importance of maintaining sanitary conditions throughout the kitchen. Food waste disposers contribute to that goal, so we make instruction on disposer use as much a part of the curriculum as how to use a mixer or sharpen knives."
The Schoolcraft Culinary Arts program has a weekly shopping list that includes 60 cases of fruit and vegetables and more than 600 pounds of meat. According to Gawronski, heavy emphasis is placed on using every possible part of the raw food product. Only what absolutely can't be used goes into the disposer.
Even with diligent management, however, a significant amount of waste is generated - so much that it is measured by the caseload. Weekly refuse from the Produce class includes two cases of lettuce scraps, one case of fruit scraps and a half-case of vegetable peelings. Another class generates 40 pounds of meat trimmings and fish bones every week.
Before the new disposers were installed, the sheer volume of food waste necessitated a garbage pickup three times a week. Gawronski estimates that the new disposers have reduced the amount of wet refuse (vs. paper, glass, plastic, etc.) by 66%. As a result, only one garbage pickup is now needed per week. Over the course of a year, the difference in garbage hauling costs could help significantly reduce a restaurant's cost of operation.
Gawronski also cites the quiet operation of the InSinkErator SS-300 disposer as one of the unexpected but much-appreciated benefits of the system. "Kitchens can be very noisy places," he said. "In any commercial kitchen, you want to minimize noise, but it is especially important in an educational environment. Being able to hear - and be heard - is important to both students and instructors.
"As educators, we feel that we should be on the cutting edge of quality not only in food, but in technology, ecology and efficiency as well. InSinkErator products are one of many ways we turn students into foodservice professionals, fully prepared for success."