Fostering True Sustainability
Story by Chef Marcus Guiliano, Aroma Thyme Bistro
Sustainability has different meanings to different people. I once had a conversation with a very well-known winemaker from California whose idea of sustainability was to spray harmful chemicals to kill weeds. He explained that it was sustainable because it helped his bank account. So a red flag always goes up for me when I hear the word sustainability. Here’s what my definition involves.
The first common perception of sustainability is that it is taking care of Mother Nature. But sustainability has to include the many actions involved in running a restaurant. The winemaker was correct on one level. Yes, the finances are super important. And taking care of your guests in the restaurant business is crucial—providing a product, service, connection and even an emotion. But we need to have a sustainable relationship with our suppliers as well.
In 1999, I learned a very valuable lesson. I had started working with over 50 small farms at a restaurant in Colorado. This was where I learned that to have a successful restaurant, you must honor the suppliers, especially the farmers; running a restaurant was no longer about just serving fantastic food and making guests smile. This idea of the full circle was what started to define my culinary path. That year, I organized a group of more than 15 chefs who started working directly with the local farmers.