Tom Colicchio Takes On Food Waste With Do Good Chicken - Exclusive

Chef Tom Colicchio is best known for his role as head judge on Bravo's long-running cooking competition "Top Chef." Since coming to national fame as a television star, Colicchio leveraged his notoriety to bring attention to important issues like childhood nutrition, hunger in America, and the problem of rampant food waste.

"I've been an anti-hunger advocate for years," Colicchio told Tasting Table in an exclusive interview. "When we talk about hunger in the United States, it's not like hunger that we see in the third world. It's a little different — it's more of a deficit of nutrition. There's a host of reasons why there's a problem there."

Issues around childhood nutrition are especially important to Colicchio. His mother ran a school cafeteria, and he witnessed first-hand the ways in which bureaucracy and limited resources impacted the health and education of America's youth. 

"It's impossible to sit through a day and learn if you're hungry," Colicchio said. "We can end hunger in this country if we really wanted to ... It's not an issue of not having enough. We have plenty in this country. We have to have a commitment to doing this."

One way to address hunger and nutrition deficits in American families is to tackle the enormous problem of food waste. Colicchio, in partnership with the new company Do Good Chicken, aims to do just that with their brand of antibiotic, hormone-free, ethically-raised chicken.

Tom Colicchio and Do Good Chicken take on supermarket food waste

"Food waste happens throughout the entire system," Tom Colicchio said. "It happens now in the supermarket when things aren't perfect or they get down to a few little things left, and it all gets trashed." In fact, 40% of all food grown and processed in the U.S. is thrown away.

While there is no denying that food waste is a major problem, Colicchio and Do Good Chicken are working toward aiding in this nation-wide problem. According to Colicchio, Do Good Chicken takes the surplus produce from supermarkets that isn't donated to food banks and processes it into nutritious chicken feed. 

"Each Do Good Chicken actually represents roughly four pounds of food that would've been thrown out," Colicchio said. "All of our chickens are raised with access to the outdoors, no antibiotics ever, no growth hormone. It's great chicken."

When one buys Do Good Chicken, not only are they feeding their family with a highly nutritious protein, but they're also doing their part to combat climate change.

Tom Colicchio's tips to fight food waste at home

"At home, [food waste] happens from people over-purchasing and leaving food behind in the refrigerator," Tom Colicchio said. He also acknowledged how it's challenging to keep on top of food waste, especially when balancing work-life and family-life. "It's hard to do, especially if you're a busy family. Two parents are working. It's hard to figure all that out."

One surprise factor contributing to at-home food waste is leftovers. While many keep leftovers under the impression they will have something to eat later on, these meals can easily be forgotten. 

"Quite frankly, most people put leftovers in a tray in the refrigerator, and it gets left until it gets thrown out," Colicchio said. "They don't incorporate that into the next day's meal or the next day's lunch."

When it comes to leftovers, Colicchio suggests shopping wisely and performing a weekly inventory check. During this check, one can then make their meal for that day based on what's closest to going bad, thus sparing it from becoming waste.

"I do [inventory checks] on Fridays," Colicchio said. "I go through my refrigerator and start pulling out things that I know in a day or two I'm going to throw out. It's usually vegetables — a carrot over here, a piece of cauliflower, some broccoli. I try to make sure that I'm intentional with the way I cook to make sure I incorporate all of that before it gets thrown out."

Learn more about Do Good Chicken's sustainability mission on their website. Follow Tom Colicchio on Instagram for updates on his latest projects.