DENVER (CBS4) – Gallons of water are wasted each day trying to safely thaw food used in restaurants across the country so a Colorado team invented a product to preserve this precious resource while helping kitchens cook with frozen meat and vegetables in an efficient way. Boss Defrost hopes to change an industry when many businesses are looking for extra help to save money during a pandemic and communities nationwide are more conscious about helping the environment.
“We are considered the rooftop of all those rivers,” said Chris Starkus, the chief sales officer for Boss Defrost and a partner in the business. “It just makes sense that it started here.”
Starkus was the opening executive chef for Urban Farmer in Denver and worked there for two years before he decided to make a career change. He wanted to have a larger impact from beyond the kitchen, bringing 25 years of experience from the restaurant industry. He says the role Colorado played in launching this product feels symbolic given that the Rocky Mountains are a crucial water source for the west and east.
“I wanted to inflict change in the industry beyond just the food,” he told CBS4 in Feb 2020. “That’s gallons and gallons of potable water that have been wasted for one item.”
The Boss Defrost device can attach to a container and has a pump that requires a power source. It recirculates water and can monitor the temperature so a food product can thaw inside a water bath. The typical process of leaving an item under running water also takes up valuable space in the kitchen and removing items well in advance to thaw in a refrigerator isn’t as practical. Boss Defrost reduces water use in the thawing process by 98.5%, according to its website.
“Boss Defrost saves you money, time, and water,” Starkus said while demonstrating the device at his former employer. “You’re saving that potable water and those riverways from the top down.”
The launch of the product came at a time when the restaurant industry was focusing more on the source of the food and ingredients it cooks within the kitchen. A desire for more recycling and compostable items also grew in the business. Starkus saw the device change the culture and improve operations when he was a chef.
“They’re connected to nature through food, and water is just another component of that,” he said. “We can leave a legacy for not only for our children but generations to come.”
While he never wanted to own a restaurant, he did see himself as an entrepreneur and Boss Defrost allowed him to pursue that goal. Married for 15 years, his wife joined the team on the marketing side. The new job not only helped him to change his old industry but also his personal life. He has more time with his children, who he thinks about often when working on this product.
“To leave it better than we found it, and so, teaching them that lesson, and that understanding, they’re going to carry that forward,” Starkus said. “There’s been no solution until now.”
Boss Defrost is a National Science Foundation certified water conservation device that mimics the USDA process for thawing food, he explained. The former chef can’t seem to think of any reason why the industry did not seek out this idea sooner.
“When you know there’s a solution, you’re going to go to that solution,” he said. “It’s going to make your life more efficient.”
Not only is water preservation more of a priority in restaurants, the product launched at a time when kitchens were already understaffed and during the pandemic, the labor shortage has only increased. Starkus tested out the product for a year as a chef so he knows it will help others in the same role. He also thinks hunters and fishing enthusiasts could also use the product. Anyone who buys food in bulk and freezes can benefit, he said.
“The pandemic really put an emphasis on the environment and restaurant hospitality in general,” he said in between classes he teaches last week.
Starkus has returned to the kitchen since he first spoke to CBS4 about Boss Defrost 18 months ago, leading culinary students in the metro area. This additional responsibility to working for Boss Defrost feeds his passion to leave a lasting impact. More than a year later, the interest in the product continues to grow as the company tracks its success online with a Boss Map highlighting new users in different states. Starkus and his wife have also traveled out-of-state to showcase the device. The inspiration they and the team found locally stays with them as the concept catches on from coast to coast.
“Colorado is a leader on so many things and I’m glad that it’s a leader and that I can help it become a leader in water conservation,” he said.
LINK: Boss Defrost