5 Questions with Dick Cattani – CEO of Restaurant Associates

November 15, 2017

Dick started with Restaurant Associates right out of college as back of the house steward. He eventually became General Manager of the famous “Newarker Restaurant” at Newark Airport. Over the years, Dick has held many regional and corporate operating positions. He became President of Restaurant Associates in 2003 and, under his leadership, grew the company three-fold in ten states. Currently, he serves as Chief Executive Officer of Restaurant Associates.

1. What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

I became more aware of the situation and frankly enlightened after attending many industry conferences, company meetings and listening to speaker after speaker articulate the abuse of food waste in our society.

2. Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?

At a very early age my mother would consistently tell me to eat every morsel on my plate “because the people in Europe are starving.” It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized the people in Europe weren’t starving, but people in other parts of the world were! My mother was, however, very conscious of food waste and was very thrifty in saving money and utilizing leftover food.

3. What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

In our business I have made it a priority to reduce portions in our restaurants and staff cafes, as well as reducing food and beverage inventories in our units. Every unit in the company has much too much product on hand that only results in food waste. Our volume of conference catering food and beverage also was a problem until we adjusted the program by reducing the quantities offered

4. What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

We will not turn the corner until it is addressed at an early age with our children in schools, clubs, camps and social media.

5. What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Teach and influence one young person today! I’ve been explaining this issue to my 10-year old granddaughter. I’m making progress!