Chili's Can Be Rude -- Stop Throwing Away Your Food!

Categories: Fuming Foodie
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I love free stuff, Groupon, discounts, hook ups, and so on. But my obsession with not throwing away food when there is some other use for it stems from more than the fact I like to save a little coin.

Americans generate more than 34 million tons of food waste annually -- which makes it the largest part of municipal solid waste being taken to landfills and incinerators.

Food leftovers are the number one source of waste in the United States according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Food waste includes uneaten food and scraps from homes, restaurants, and institutions such as school cafeterias.

Many restaurants don't seem to understand this. When I wanted to take home the two boneless chicken wings and few celery sticks left on my plate recently from the Chili's in Homestead, I requested a to-go box. The server, instead of graciously agreeing, looked at me with disdain.

Her attitude irked me. So this morning I decided to call the manager and ask if such behavior was condoned by the restaurant. I spoke, and I use the word spoke in the loosest possible sense since his speech was more like machine gunfire than actual words, with Reginald Miller, the manager on duty.

After being put on hold, then told to hurry up since he was on a conference call, his answer to my question was, "I have no comment. You can call our legal department." No problem there -- except the number that he barked at me was answered by a recording stating that the number I had dialed is not a working number.

I know, I know, as a journalist I should have confirmed the number with Miller before ending the call. See, the thing is I did. But while I was repeating it back to him, he hung up on me. Must have been a really important conference call.

Unfortunately, the three times I called back I received a busy signal. I'll keep trying and update you as to what the Chili's legal team says.

This response epitomizes that sense that it's wrong to take home food and surprise my dogs with a treat. Maybe I want the leftovers with some toast or a fried egg. Or I could feed it to one of the many stray cats in my neighborhood. Someone will eat it.

And if someone, be they biped or quadped, eats these leftovers then the food is no longer going to "waste."

But apparently, in our 'harder, better, faster, stronger' society, I'm a loser for not demonstrating to the world that I can afford to mindlessly discard half a plate of food every time I go out to dinner. Look around you the next time you go out to eat. You'll be astonished at the amount of food that people let bussers and servers take from their table.

And you know what this display of 'affluence' (mindless indifference/arrogance) does? It kills us.<

All that food you and your friends let the server at Chili's take from your table and dispose of (because on your boss $14 per hour wage, you can afford to go to Chili's just for the ambiance) sits in landfills producing methane - a greenhouse gas 21 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. Landfills produce over 20 percent of all methane emissions.

Fortunately, I'm blessed with the kind of disposition that enables me to brush my shoulders off when people look at me funny and think that I'm weird/cheap/pathetic/nuts and/or a multitude of other demeaning labels.

Besides, when I see you letting your server throw away your half eaten order of Texas chili cheese fries, I'm looking at you thinking the same thing.

If you're interested in reducing food waste, the EPA's site has a lot of helpful suggestions.

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10 comments
I hate you.
I hate you.

As a server, I pick up plates with more than half of the food left on them. It disgusts me. It makes me hate you.I've had to throw away $20 dollar literally uneaten steaks because pansies don't want them. It hurts my heart. Don't come out to eat and only have two bites. Not only are you wasting your money and coming off to me and my coworkers as an idiot, you are wasting our time, our hardworking cooks' time, our food, and our environment.Plates are also way heavier and way MORE disgusting to take to the dishwashers when your entire fking meal is still on them. All the nasty "leftovers" that are really food you picked at for five minutes get on my hands, my shoes, my shirt, and you're disgusting. Take your fucking food home. And tip me well.

Guest
Guest

Really? You're mad that people are leaving behind food because then you have to take it back to the kitchen? Restaurant portions at all but the most upscale places are HUGE. Sometimes what looks like "a few bites" off a plate with a massive pile of caloric food is all you need to get a normal portion. I'm sorry you get food on yourself when you clean up, but it's a hazard of the job. Every job has them. You're mad at the wrong people here. This is from someone who always leaves behind food for the good of my waistline, but also always leaves at least a 20% (or higher) tip.

Guest
Guest

BTW I'm not into food waste at all. I usually take things home. I don't know where you work, but sometimes one can be forced to eat somewhere disgusting -- like Chili's -- for a family gathering or whatever and it's just not worth it to take the leftovers.

Ily Goyanes
Ily Goyanes

I commend you for usually taking things home. And yes, sometimes the food you left isn't something that you would want to eat later, but....

You can use these leftovers to feed pets, stray animals, and homeless people, or, depending on what you left, as compost. You can also donate it to farmers for them to use as feed or compost.

Because restaurants usually serve such ridiculously over-sized portions, I usually cut everything in half or thirds as soon as the plate hits my table. I'll eat a portion and package the rest. Sometimes I'll take it home for me, my pets, or someone in my house, and sometimes (usually depending on the neighborhood the restaurant is in) I'll offer it to a homeless person. 

I have given half meals to homeless people on several occasions and have been thanked profusely each time except for one occasion. I've heard comments like, "I haven't eaten in days," and "I was starving." And usually, they immediately start munching on the leftovers that we deemed to be of insufficient quality and/or taste. There's nothing wrong with the fact that we didn't like it, but just because we view it as trash, doesn't mean that everyone will. 

Sanchez
Sanchez

Weren't you blasting Obama recently for having chicken wings? Hypocrisy much? BTW, the Chili's boneless bufalo wings with blue cheese are 1490 calories and 88 grams of fat. I don't think there any hypnotic diet that can help you if you continue to stuff your mouth like that.

Ily Goyanes
Ily Goyanes

Um, Sanchez...I suggest that you put a little thought into your comments. 

And not that I have to justify anything to you, since I do not know you, right, lol?

but, I'm not the president of the United States so my eating habits do not have the potential to influence a nation and it's children. 

Plus, I was not 'stuffing' my mouth with the chicken wings; they were part of a sampler and they were ordered by my ex-fiancee who has absolutely no concern about what she puts in her mouth. We were sharing -- I was eating the celery sticks. XD

Have a blessed day.

Sanchez
Sanchez

Nobody asked for a justification, much less a weak one like you offered. You can do as you please, but as a columnist you are also a person of influence, no matter how minuscule you consider it to be, and a little consistency is to be expected. May I suggest you use your own advice and put a little thought on what you write, perhaps 10% of the energy you spent complaining about a doggie bag?

Ily Goyanes
Ily Goyanes

There is not a single counterpoint to my rebuttal in your entire post -- it's utterly shallow and a poorly veiled attempt at stirring things up. 

The only statement you made in the entire post that could be called a counterargument (by a monumental leap of the imagination) was comparing my reach and influence to that of the president of the United States. I won't even bother to touch that one, since the inanity of the statement speaks for itself.The first time you posted I responded honestly because I was giving you the benefit of the doubt. If you were posting a comment simply because you disagreed with me you could have retorted with an intelligent and non-demeaning argument to my column. Since it is obvious that you are just trolling, I will no longer bother engaging.

Have a blessed day.

Foodie Lover
Foodie Lover

What a waste! Chili's has never been a favorite of mine, but this makes it drop down to the bottom of my list, after reading this. Managers are supposed to be nice to customers, not bark out loud, but his hanging up on the call is just as bad as telling you to hurry because he is on a conference call. Maybe there's something awful in the food they serve inside, so they don't want it out there. That's what I like about your blog. It is always so informative.

Ily Goyanes
Ily Goyanes

Thanks, I appreciate that.

I can understand someone being busy, but the way I see it he could have just as easily told me to call him back in twenty minutes of he could have jotted down my number and called me back when he was done with the conference call. There was really no reason for him to be rude -- it was completely uncalled for. 

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