In the name of preserving our precious planet, top restaurants, bars, and hotels across the country take ‘stalk’ with a slew of imaginative and revolutionary sustainable practices to be celebrated upon re-opening. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day [April 22, 1970,] and the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA,] our nation’s hospitality cognoscenti remain committed to conserving and celebrating our planet, now more than ever before.
David Guas of Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery has been granted the exclusive use of the grits produced from George Washington’s Gristmill in Mount Vernon, VA – the same machine used by Washington himself in 1771. The historic Gristmill is incredibly eco-friendly as it operates solely by a water mill that runs beneath the building. The Gristmill at Mount Vernon is the only milling system in America that still utilizes this design. Today, Guas e the grits and cornmeal in his Classic Cornbread, Lemon Chess Pie, Grits, and Cornmeal Sable Cookies.
Anchoring San Antonio’s renowned Pearl District, Cured from chef Steve McHugh is at the forefront of innovative, ecologically-inspired initiatives, utilizing both state-of-the-art culinary techniques and responsible sourcing. McHugh is one of only three chefs in the entire state of Texas to be certified as a leader in the distinguished James Beard Foundation’s Smart Catch program. Cured was also named a 2019 Good Food 100 Restaurant for its sustainable sourcing and healthy practices in the restaurant industry, from composting and recycling and tracking food waste, to eco-friendly lighting and cleaning supplies.
When life gives you Spanish moss, pine needles, bamboo, and more…make cocktails! That’s exactly what head bartender Alan Walter does at Loa, the soulful bar within International House, in New Orleans. Encapsulating the earthy essence of his surrounds, Walter creates syrups and bitters for his cocktails with ingredients foraged from seven neighborhoods throughout the city. For additional knowledge and guidance and knowledge, Walter turns to Greyhawk Perkins, who is of Native American Choctaw and Houma Nation descent, to identify plants that are sacred to the Mother Earth like Elderberry Flower and Sassafrass Root.
Considering that oyster shell is the best, most natural material used to rebuild oyster reefs, Ralph Brennan and his team are doing their part to keep the beloved gulf oysters alive and well. When the BP oil spill delivered a second brutal blow to the Gulf Coast, Ralph Brennan worked tirelessly to support and advocate for those dependent on its fishing industry. A respected authority on the subject [and author of his own New Orleans Seafood Cookbook,] he testified before Congress about the desperate plight of the region’s fishermen. In the decade that followed his restaurant group has purchased nearly five million pounds of Gulf fish and six million oysters and counting — staggering numbers that illustrate Brennan’s investment in his community, and his drive to uphold his city’s culinary traditions.
Situated on the periphery of the Anacostia River — just across from Nationals Park and in the heart of DC’s lively Navy Yard neighborhood, executive chef Kyle Bailey of The Salt Line employs pioneering practices to ensure the surrounding waterways remain a viable, yet unspoiled, resource. As the co-founder of Washington D.C.’s Dock-to-Dish Chapter, a national initiative dedicated to restoring the sustainability of the wild seafood marketplace by creating symbiotic links between chefs and fishermen, Bailey works closely with seafood suppliers, year-round, to source and obtain the most responsibly harvested — often under-utilized — wild catches from the Chesapeake Bay.
DC barman-turned-distiller, Todd Thrasher, has an adoration for the world’s waterways runs deep as an avid scuba diver and former scuba instructor. Thrasher’s aquatic adventures have taken him across the globe, from the South Pacific to the West Indies, and beyond. At his acclaimed Polynesian-style Tiki bar at The Wharf, Tiki TNT, with each purchase of the Wet Money cocktail – named in tribute to Thrasher’s days of paying with drinks with soggy money stashed in swimsuit pocket – $1 is donated to Project Aware. An active member for over a decade Thrasher proudly supports the organization – committed to conserving underwater environments. Keeping it all in-house, the rooftop of Thrasher’s three-story distillery-bar complex, Potomac Distilling, offers a scenic garden where herbs and botanicals used to create Thrasher’s signature Green Spiced Rum are grown. Now that’s locally-sourced!