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What Does a Sustainable Restaurant Look Like?

Celebrity chef Arthur Potts Dawson's TED talk explores how to create zero-waste restaurants and supermarkets.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ89At9Xxws

Celebrity chef Arthur Potts Dawson's TED talk was recently posted, and is well worth a watch. His two sustainable restaurants, Acorn House and Water House, are furnished using recycled plastics, reclaimed wood, and rummage sale cushions (donated by his mum, who found the Norwegian Forestry-certified benches too hard). Water House, the more recently opened of the two, is actually a zero-carbon restaurant: Built next to a canal, it is entirely heated, cooled, and powered by hydroelectricity and heat exchange.


Potts Dawson's passion is waste minimization. In the talk, he explains that his menu at Acorn House was created to allow "people to choose the amount and the volume of food that they wanted to consume, rather than me putting a dish down, and them being allowed to help themselves to as much or as little as they wanted."

Later on, and with evident pride, he shows slides of his "dehydrating, desiccating macerator," which turns food waste into a kind of vegetable jerky so that he can store it to compost later. His excitement is only slightly dimmed by the fact that when he experimentally added the jerky to his wormery, all the worms died.

His newest project, The People's Supermarket, opened earlier this year in central London. I visited it last week, and it's definitely still finding its way, but there are already several clever waste-reduction schemes in place, including an on-site kitchen so that as food nears its sell-by-date, co-op members can extend its shelf life by making it into prepared dishes.

Potts Dawson promises to open at least three more restaurants in this talk. Meanwhile, let's hope other restaurant owners and chefs are inspired to follow his example.

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