Culinary Arts Department Going Green

The Austin Community College District is serving up a fresh approach to culinary arts, as students preparing for careers in the culinary industry take part in eco-friendly initiatives.
Grant Calvert disposes of food scraps for composting.

“This isn’t just an industry trend – it’s about doing our part to promote sustainable practices,” says Chef Sandi Pepper, chair of the Culinary Arts Department. “‘Going green’ is now an important part of our program.”

Composting began this semester, with a goal of diverting at least 80 percent of the program’s waste from landfills. Students collect organic matter generated through Culinary Arts; Organics by Gosh, a local food-waste composting and organic-recycling provider, makes a weekly pickup at Eastview Campus. The compost will be sold through local home and garden stores.

When the college’s student-run lunch restaurant, Le Bistrette, opens at Eastview February 22, patrons will see the department’s environmentally-conscious changes. Students will package to-go orders and leftovers in paper containers, which are compostable and biodegradable. The Culinary Arts Department is phasing out plastic foam, which is difficult to recycle, and plans to stop using it altogether by the end of the summer. The department also is transitioning to recyclable or compostable to-go cutlery.

Additional green practices are in development. The Culinary Arts Department is researching ways to obtain more ingredients from local suppliers, and the college’s Child Lab School will contribute food scraps for composting.

Jordan Foster works on a dessert in a compostable container.

“This is exciting; everyone is really on board,” says Amanda Covington, Culinary Arts Department assistant, who helped drive the initiative. “More restaurants are using these techniques, so it’s setting an example of what students will encounter in real-world job situations.”

The Culinary Arts Department’s green initiatives are another element of the college’s commitment to sustainability.

“These efforts allow ACC to further lessen its impact on the environment,” says Andy Kim, director of environmental stewardship. “They also create a positive ripple effect. Students learn these eco-friendly techniques at ACC and then continue them when they’re working in restaurants across Central Texas and beyond.”

Learn more about the Culinary Arts Department at, and take an inside look at ACC’s Culinary Arts kitchens in the slideshow below. Explore all of ACC’s sustainability programs at

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