SETTING AN EXAMPLE: three of the UK's most sustainable restaurants
The energy has changed in the food industry. It is now no longer enough just to serve up deliciously tantalising cuisine. We want more. We want to know how that corn-fed chicken has arrived on our plate, or where the Maris Piper potato started on its journey. Responsibility has to be taken and we all need to be accountable for our actions. There are some incredibly encouraging steps taking place across the UK. Ones that can only inspire and stimulate action for change.
We want to spotlight three remarkable establishments whose commitment to sustainability and ethics in their food businesses shines bright. At peardrop we are trying in our own way to take accountability, its not easy, but when you see what the three restaurants below do to help the earth, it can only act as a driving force. It’s time for us all to undo the plastic, recycle it and take inspiration from the below initiatives.
The Greenhouse Hotel in Dorset is home to the enchanting Arbor restaurant. The talented chefs create a merry go round of seasonal dishes using only local, artisan producers of the best quality. Fish goes from port to plate, in the knowledge that all methods employed have been with an awareness of the ocean’s fish stocks. Meat is proudly sourced from suppliers who say that you could ‘walk around most of our supply chain’. And Each ingredient put on the plate has been obtained with care. The most admirable thing about Arbor is that it is not just the cost of the food that is considered, but the cost to our Earth. Yes, how and where the food is produced is critical, but Arbor’s commitment to sustainability goes beyond the menu. The restaurant has hot-fill dishwashers that use water that is in part heated through solar power, there are low energy induction cookers, and an on-site filtration and bottling system to avoid the transport of bottled water. It really makes you think about the origins of your bottle of Volvic. It’s quite amazing how Arbor has combined imaginative, seasonal but most importantly, delicious, food with an honest reflection of its environment.
Trash is for Tossers! No mention of sustainability would be complete without Silo. A triple threat, when it comes to their restaurant the team behind Silo consider the environment, food generation, as well as the nourishment that our bodies need. Food miles and over-processing just aren’t considered here because every item that passes the diner’s lips has been created from its whole form. Reuse, Reduce, Share, Repeat. Such a profoundly simple concept that we should all live by, yet in reality the amount of thought and work that has to go in to its execution is mind blowing. This is what makes Silo such an unbelievable concept. Think fizzy fermented drinks from foraged silver birch, wholesome ancient grains milled on site, freshly whipped creamy butter and a St John’s style approach to the nose to tail ideology. Plates are formed from plastic bags, tables from industrial floor tiles and Silo’s own aerobic digester can generate an astonishing 60kg of compost in just 24 hours (I don’t even know what an ‘aerobic digester’ is?!). If you talk to anyone who has eaten at Silo, they will also tell you just how exceedingly delectable the pumpkin, rhubarb and sumac was, only to be surpassed by the pumpkin seed ice cream, pine and ferukaki that followed – a true example of using each part of the starting product. This is world-class food and a world-class demonstration that it is possible to create magic in the kitchen alongside true sustainability. Best I go and order myself New Dawn Rum, Apple, Cacao Husk and Honey Daquiri….
And of course ... Poco. Brought to you by our friend Tom Hunt, with whom we cooked our "Root to Fruit" Supper club last year at Fare Healthy.
Tom, Executive Chef, is also the founder of Forgotten Feast, a Social Enterprise that works on projects throughout the UK to revive our cooking heritage and help reduce food waste. It is no mean feat to have been awarded 2016’s Sustainable Restaurant of the year, and it doesn’t come as a remote surprise on glancing through the inspiring manifesto that Poco has put forward for itself. Suppliers, Food Waste, Menu, Communications, Bricks & Mortar… And these are just the category headings! The commodity chain at Poco is completely transparent and each link in the sequence is accounted for. Organic? Check. Ethical? Check. UK produced? Absolutely. Poco bases its principles on a circular economy, regenerating everything back into the system in the soundest way possible. The accountability is phenomenal – each day the bin bags are weighed and the data is recorded to then be analysed in order to reduce the waste for next time. This kind of commitment is exceptional and the ideas should be renewed and recycled by us all. No pun intended.