Talented young chefs are opening "sustainable" restaurants. These culinary laboratories are on the look-out… for food and energy waste!
The kitchen is an ideal place for applying the principles of economy. Restaurateurs are now competing to offer their customers a zero waste, zero carbon experience – but without sacrificing any culinary delights along the way!
Silo, the newcomer
Zero waste is the credo of Douglas McMaster, a young chef that opened the restaurant / bakery / coffee house known as Silo in 2014 in Brighton, UK. The chef only buys from local producers and makes his own butter and yogurt to reduce packaging as much as possible. His seasonal dishes are served on recycled plastic plates, and jam jars are used as glasses. There are never more than six à la carte dishes on the menu, which limits wastage. But any waste is reused: food scraps are composted and used as fertilizer and the flush toilet uses waste water from the kitchen! His next step? Solar panels fitted on the roof to save even more energy.
Sandwich Me In, a benchmark
This Chicago eatery is a model in the genre. In two years, the owner Justin Vrany has only produced 30 liters of waste (whereas in the US a restaurant generates on average 50 tons of trash per year - according to the Green Restaurant Association / source: dinegreen.weebly.com). He manages to reconcile fast food with respect for the environment. At Sandwich Me In, sandwiches, snacks and salads made from local, seasonal produce can be eaten on the go. Nothing (or almost) finishes up in the trash can: anything not composted is given to the hens that lay the eggs used in the salads and sandwiches. Even the used cooking oil is recycled as a biofuel. Best of all the restaurant is powered by wind energy and so has a very small carbon footprint.
There is no shortage of new initiatives. To give visibility to these eco-friendly restaurants, the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) not only lists useful addresses but also presents an annual international award. As Tom Tanner, responsible for press and PR for the SRA, points out, "restaurants have an important role to play in sustainable development because they provide a platform for direct exchanges with the public."
In France, renowned chef Thierry Marx launched "sustainable dinners", and Jean-Luc Rabanel was the first organic chef with his restaurant l’Atelier in Arles. Enough to whet the appetite of all those gourmets who also want to help preserve the planet!