Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Environmental Science (MS)

Degree Level



General Human Environmental Sciences


Kelly Way

Committee Member

Mary E. Garrison

Second Committee Member

Lisa Wood


Chefs, Food Waste, Hospitality, Zero Waste Cooking


The purpose of this study is to examine chefs’ perceptions and practices relative to current and potentially future efforts to decrease food waste. Through qualitative inquiry, this research aims to identify food waste reduction practices in Northwest Arkansas restaurants; chef’s perceptions of these practices and zero waste cooking; the impact these practices have on successfully implementing sustainability; and the biggest challenges in reducing food waste in restaurants. The results of this study will assist chefs and restaurant owners by providing guidance on practices easily utilized in restaurants currently.

An interview protocol, with five sections, was conducted with ten chefs at different restaurants in Northwest Arkansas. The sections discussed food waste policy and tracking, training and communication, donation, food waste reduction practices, and perceptions of food waste. Chefs were asked to fill out a demographic questionnaire after the interviews were conducted.

The results of this study indicated that Northwest Arkansas chefs are implementing multiple food waste reduction practices in their restaurants. Many chefs have begun a composting program, where they are educated on the importance of reducing food waste in landfills. The most common food waste reduction methods that chefs utilized were re-purposing ingredients, back-of-house training, portion size control, donating, and composting. Training was an important aspect in successfully implementing food waste, with chefs stating that chefs must be passionate about reducing food waste for the process to be successful. Cooperation and lack of knowledge emerged as the biggest challenges in reducing food waste.

The results of this study indicated that chefs tended to be confused on what constituted as zero waste cooking, suggesting that a more universal definition be created.

It is hoped the results from this study will lead to further research in food waste reduction practices and zero waste cooking, resulting in an awareness of the magnitude food waste has on the world. Results from this study can be used as a catalyst for conducting follow-up research on food waste reduction practices in other cities, allowing a more comprehensive look at food waste across the country.