New San Francisco restaurant serves up sustainability

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Among the features of the Perennial's dining room are reclaimed lumber, a 100 percent recycled and recyclable rug, recycled tiles, plaster made from marble-processing waste and recycled glazing(Credit: The Perennial)

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A new restaurant is aimed at showing that good food need not be bad for the environment. The Perennial, in San Francisco, uses sustainable produce, practices and design. It has its own aquaponic greenhouse, sources responsibly-reared meat and has recycled furnishings.

Set up by husband-and-wife team Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz, the Perennial is aimed at prioritizing the environment without sacrificing culinary skills, and at showing how sustainability can be applied within the industry. It is also hoped that it will help to foster engagement about climate change.

The restaurant's menu includes dishes made with Kernza, a new perennial grain that counteracts climate change through its high-yield, root-based carbon sequestration and pest resistance. Meat and dairy produce, meanwhile, come from ranches where cattle graze on "compost-treated rangeland," which encourages the growth of longer-rooted perennial grasses that sequester carbon beneath the soil.

A 2,000-sq ft (186-sq m) aquaponic greenhouse, located in nearby Oakland, is used to produce lettuce and vegetables. Food scraps from the restaurant's kitchen are fed to worms and larvae, which in turn are fed to fish that fertilize the crops.

Energy efficiency is forefronted in the kitchen, which was designed in consultation with the Food Service Technology Center. Among the energy-efficient appliances in use are an intelligent cooker hood that monitors the air and turns itself on and off as required, a combi oven that can produce steam heat, dry heat, or a combination (said to be 30 percent more efficient than standard equipment) and pots that heat up more quickly than regular pots.

Elsewhere in the kitchen, special flooring is used that is 100 recycled and doesn't need to be hosed down like regular kitchen mats, and the chefs are said to make "responsible use of meat." This includes the use of more than just prime cuts, and the general use of meat in moderation.

Whereas most restaurant bars use a number of small refrigerators, the Perennial has a two-room walk-in refrigerator, which it says is a more efficient approach. Wine and cocktails are served on-tap so as to reduce packaging, energy and waste, while spirits are sought to be local and/or sustainably produced. A water still is used to create hydrosols and essential oils from citrus peels.

The dining room itself also makes use of environmentally-conscious design. Among its features are reclaimed lumber, a 100 percent recycled and recyclable rug, recycled tiles, plaster made from marble-processing waste and recycled glazing. LED lighting helps to minimize energy usage, while recycled paper is used for for menus, which are fed to worms at the aquaponic greenhouse when worn out.

Among its other efforts, the Perennial is seeking LEED Platinum certification and donates a portion of its revenues to the non-profit ZeroFoodprint project, that educates restaurants in how to to reduce their carbon footprints.

The Perennial launched on Jan. 20th and is currently open from Monday to Saturday.

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