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Moe’s First Green Restaurant Launches the Brand’s Sustainability Initiative
November 16, 2009, 6:52 pm
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Moe’s First Green Restaurant Launches the Brand’s Sustainability Initiative

Moes Moe’s sustainable journey begins with the opening of its first green restaurant in Vermont
On October 15 Moe’s Southwest Grill celebrated the opening of the chain’s first green restaurant in Williston, VT. Two years ago Franchise Partners Sueayn and Philip Wood along with the Moe’s team set out to make the Williston Moe’s the first LEED certified restaurant in the chain and in the state of Vermont.

“It’s exciting to be the first Moe’s restaurant to attempt LEED certification,” explains Sueayn Wood. “Our hope is that some of the innovations that have been discovered through this process can be applied to other Moe’s restaurants throughout the country.”

On its way to earning Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Moe’s has installed LED lighting, energy efficient cooking equipment, and a technologically advanced air control system that they anticipate will reduce energy consumption by 22 percent.

In compliance with LEED standards, the building materials were locally sourced and the laminates, paint and adhesives are all low-emission to help enhance the air quality of the restaurant.

In addition, this new location features low flow sink aerators, low flow toilets and waterless urinals.

Finally, a unique regional feature is the Freeaire management system for the walk-in cooler that overrides the condensers and evaporators once the outside air reaches a temperature that is equal to or cooler than the desired walk-in temperature.

“This project has been a great learning experience for the Moe’s brand,” explains President Paul Damico. “It has challenged our operations, development and supply chain teams to find solutions that meet the USGBC’s high standards.”

In an effort to make responsible recommendations to Franchise Partners who wish to make their new and existing restaurants greener, Moe’s is tracking the usage and cost of Williston’s water, waste and energy to determine the impact of these environmentally-friendly improvements.

“At the same time, Moe’s is working on an energy efficiency strategy for the brand, testing a composting solution and making nutritional improvements,” says Damico. “Moe’s is committed to a more sustainable future and this marks the beginning of our journey.”

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Moe’s Opens its First Green Restaurant
November 13, 2009, 9:39 pm
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Moe’s Opens its First Green Restaurant

Moe’s sustainable journey begins with the opening of its first green restaurant in Vermont.

— Chain Leader, 11/13/2009 8:12:00 AM

PRESS RELEASE: ATLANTA, Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ — On October 15 Moe’s Southwest Grill celebrated the opening of the chain’s first green restaurant in Williston, VT. Two years ago Franchise Partners Sueayn and Philip Wood along with the Moe’s team set out to make the Williston Moe’s the first LEED certified restaurant in the chain and in the state of Vermont.

“It’s exciting to be the first Moe’s restaurant to attempt LEED certification,” explains Sueayn Wood. “Our hope is that some of the innovations that have been discovered through this process can be applied to other Moe’s restaurants throughout the country.”

On its way to earning Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Moe’s has installed LED lighting, energy efficient cooking equipment, and a technologically advanced air control system that they anticipate will reduce energy consumption by 22 percent.

In compliance with LEED standards, the building materials were locally sourced and the laminates, paint and adhesives are all low-emission to help enhance the air quality of the restaurant.

In addition, this new location features low flow sink aerators, low flow toilets and waterless urinals.

Finally, a unique regional feature is the Freeaire management system for the walk-in cooler that overrides the condensers and evaporators once the outside air reaches a temperature that is equal to or cooler than the desired walk-in temperature.

“This project has been a great learning experience for the Moe’s brand,” explains President Paul Damico. “It has challenged our operations, development and supply chain teams to find solutions that meet the USGBC’s high standards.”

In an effort to make responsible recommendations to Franchise Partners who wish to make their new and existing restaurants greener, Moe’s is tracking the usage and cost of Williston’s water, waste and energy to determine the impact of these environmentally-friendly improvements.

“At the same time, Moe’s is working on an energy efficiency strategy for the brand, testing a composting solution and making nutritional improvements,” says Damico. “Moe’s is committed to a more sustainable future and this marks the beginning of our journey.”

About Moe’s Southwest Grill

Moe’s Southwest Grill is a fast-casual concept featuring fresh southwest fare in a fun and engaging atmosphere with over 400 locations nationwide. www.moes.com



Coming to Theaters: Food
June 15, 2009, 8:47 pm
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There’s a bumper crop of new documentaries examining America’s food system. Here’s a sampler.

The slurping of ramen in Tampopo makes me want to run out to the noodle bar. Mario’s Italian food in Mostly Martha turns even humble, dried pasta into something sensuous and ripe with meaning. From Pulp Fiction’s “Royale with Cheese” dialogue to the butter scene in Last Tango in Paris, food has often played a supporting role in movies. Just think about the Reese’s Pieces in E.T., the pie-eating contest in Stand By Me, Lelaina’s snack food subsistence in Reality Bites, or the opening fish preparation scene in Eat Drink Man Woman.

This summer, however, food is taking the lead in a cornucopia of documentaries hitting the big screen, the festival circuit, and the DVD aisle. They tend to offer something considerably less sweet than the familiar food-infused cinematic concoctions. The filmmakers show us again and again just how disgusting eating has become. This crop seems to follow the tradition of narrative exposés like Fast Food Nation and Humane Society’s downer cow video. Here’s a look at what’s coming up.

Food, Inc.

Director Robert Kenner manages to depict what’s wrong with the food system in 93 minutes with the help of authors Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser. Kenner explores the consequences of the industrial food system with infographics and devastating personal stories, including those of a mother who lost her 2-year-old son because of an E. coli-contaminated hamburger and a Mexican-American family that opts for fast food because it seems cheaper than fresh vegetables.

The film also hints at the brighter side of the food system, from organic yogurt pioneer Gary Hirshberg’s attempts to go big by getting his products into Wal-Mart to proclamations about good food from Joel Salatin, the celebrated farmer from Polyface Farm in Virginia. The scenes from Salatin’s chicken slaughtering yard, an investigation into workers’ rights, and a companion book gives this film something for everyone—from neophytes to food policy wonks.

Watch the trailer. (In select cities June 12).

The Greenhorns

Severine von Tscharner Fleming’s upcoming documentary focuses on farmers under 40. While that might not sound like a big deal, considering that the average age of farmers in the United States is 57, her twenty- and thirty-something farmers represent a new face of farming that is both whimsical and sensible. She’s also launched a blog, a magic goat emblem (!), and a guide for beginning farmers—all hoping to inspire a new crop of youthful agrarians. With so many food documentaries focused on gurus like Pollan and company, expect this film to examine the demographic who will actually cultivate farming’s future.

Watch the trailer. (November 2009).

FRESH the movie

Ana Sofia Joanes’s documentary also features sustainable food gurus Joel Salatin and Micheal Pollan, but tries to put a more positive spin on the reforms the food system needs. Based on a Salatin clip (in which he compares chemical agriculture to a drug trip) alone, the film may prove to be funnier and less heavy-handed than the others. Also expect appearances from Will Allen, the founder of the urban agriculture organization Growing Power, and other sustainable agriculture heavyweights talking about those baby steps we can take towards greener pastures. Think less scaremongering and more idealism.

Watch the trailer. (On the film festival circuit.)

Killer at Large

Film producer Bryan Young, who lost 40 pounds making the documentary, reframes obesity as a societal problem exacerbated by poorly managed food policy. The film depicts a 12-year old girl getting a liposuction and attempts to explain the hardwiring that compels humans to seek out fatty, high-energy foods. The film includes interviews with the consumer advocate Ralph Nader and the food psychology expert Brian Wansink. Expect a narrow and deep look at the psychological and evolutionary side of America’s epidemic of expanding gutlines.

Watch the trailer. (Theatrical version now on DVD.)

Food Fight

Chris Taylor’s film frames problems with agribusiness as a way to introduce the many heroes of California “countercuisine” such as chefs Alice Waters and Suzanne Goin and writers Michael Pollan and Russ Parsons. While its glorification of the movement might feel like hagiography to some, Grist’s Tom Philpott offers some incisive commentary in what could be a companion for Julie Guthman’s academic, but comprehensive, Agrarian Dreams.

Watch the trailer. (On the festival circuit.)

The End of the Line

Billed as the first major documentary about overfishing, reporter Charles Clover, author of a book of the same name that’s been called the “maritime equivalent of Silent Spring,” follows politicians, a tuna farmer-turned-whistleblower, and restaurateurs. Expect a British reporter aggressively exploring the darker side of seafood.

Watch the trailer. (Opening in limited venues on June 19).

These documentaries are part of a growing awareness about food—and watching them might just inspire a home-cooked meal, a community garden, or a call to Congress. Still, food cinema that celebrating the act of eating tends to show up more often in foreign titles. In Gastronomica’s long list of food films, even the movies made in Hollywood have a tendency to focus on ethnic foods: the Italian food in Big Night, for example. Maybe this is the collective point these documentaries make: In America, we’ve got some work to do before we can celebrate the sensuous, regionally distinctive side of nation’s cuisine on the big screen.



The Go-Betweens
June 10, 2009, 5:46 pm
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To read the article in its entirety click here

 
By Melissa McCart

Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
 

 

 

 

One day last month, Javier Arze was walking in the woods near his Springfield townhouse when he stumbled upon morels: those spongy, honeycombed mushrooms of spring that foodies fawn over for their nutty flavor. Next thing he knew, he was filling a 10-pound bag every day, several days in a row. “I’m talking a lot of mushrooms,” Arze says.

A former chef for Yannick Cam at Provence and former executive chef at Catalan, the Bolivian-born Arze was thrilled, not just because he loves morels. He can sell them to dozens of restaurant chefs who count themselves among his clients. Morels mean money. “When I told Frank Ruta,” chef-owner at Palena in Cleveland Park, “he said to me, ‘Isn’t that wonderful? It’s like finding gold.’ ”

Though his partner in his business, Huntsman Specialty Game & More, raises quail, pheasant, partridge and squab on a farm outside Richmond, Arze makes his living as a runner rather than as a farmer. Much of Arze’s profits come from locating and supplying local meats such as Shenandoah lamb, venison and beef.

Arze says his former life as a chef has helped him attract clients: He’s more aggressive at finding the highest-quality products because he knows what to look for. “I was trained by Yannick Cam to be very demanding,” he says. Chefs seem to like his deliveries: He works with 40 to 60 of them, and many are among the most well-regarded chefs in the area.

Chefs’ interest and consumer demand for local produce and locally raised meat have been stoked by the likes of Berkeley restaurateur Alice Waters, “Omnivore’s Dilemma” author Michael Pollan and first lady Michelle Obama, whose White House kitchen garden is a symbol of just how front-and-center the trend has become.

As a gatherer-deliverer of local ingredients, Arze has company. Virginia oyster farmer Bruce Wood handles local rockfish, freshwater eel, razor clams and pork. Bob Joachim of Westmoreland Berry Farm picks up produce from other farmers at weekday markets for a handful of chefs on Tuesdays and Fridays, when he’s in town.

The three have found a niche because the area lacks an efficient means of distribution between farms and restaurants. Distribution can be an expensive venture, so few have made it their business.

“There’s plenty of supply. There’s plenty of demand. But there’s little distribution,” says Cathal Armstrong, chef-owner at Restaurant Eve. “It’s the weakest link.”

To obtain a local product — say, tomatoes — without a middleman, chefs have three options. They can go to farmers markets themselves to choose tomatoes that meet their standards, a time-consuming endeavor that’s also expensive. The tomatoes cost the chefs between $3 and $5 a pound, the same price home cooks pay, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll find enough of them.

Chefs also can build a relationship with a farmer who will deliver directly to the restaurant several times a week. That is a rarity in the Washington market, where the price of gas and the farmer’s costs bump up the price.

A third choice is to pay between 90 cents and $1.80 per pound to a non-local wholesaler that does not guarantee the freshness or offer the cachet that impresses diners.

For chefs whose businesses rely on carrying local products, the third, least-expensive route is not an option. And the first two can drive up the price of meals at a time when restaurateurs are worried about the effects of the recession on dining habits.



Pret A Manger to stop selling tuna sandwiches
June 9, 2009, 5:38 pm
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By Chris Irvine
Published: 2:05PM BST 07 Jun 2009

Pret A Manger to stop selling tuna sandwiches

Pret A Manger to stop selling tuna sandwiches Photo: PHILIP HOLLIS

Julian Metcalfe, the chain’s co-founder, has removed tuna and cucumber sandwiches, while he has also banned endangered bluefin tuna from sushi boxes sold at Pret and its sister outlet Itsu.

His ban comes after watching environmental documentary The End of the Line, which describes how modern fishing is destroying the oceans’ ecosystems.

After watching the film, which is having its general release on Monday in line with World Ocean Day, Mr Metcalfe contacted the film’s producers and said: “Much as a result of your film, we took tuna out of Pret sushi entirely. No tuna in the box at all… so more in the sea, where they belong.”

He continued: “We no longer sell the tuna and cucumber sandwich at Pret. We do an Alaskan salmon, which is sustainable. Both my companies will do everything they can to speed up the process by which we only buy sustainable fish.

“Itsu is just about to sign a deal which provides only pole and line [fish] and traces each delivery to each boat. Neither Itsu or Pret would touch bluefin tuna.”

Pret’s ban comes as celebrities such as Elle Macpherson and Stephen Fry condemned Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant Nobu, for serving bluefin tuna.

Following the release of the documentary, a number of celebrities including Jemima Khan, Sting and Charlize Theron wrote to the eatery, partly owned by Robert de Niro, and said they could no longer “dine with a clear conscience” as long as the restaurant continued to serve the fish, a species considered to be as endangered as the panda or tiger.

Celebrity chefs including Gordon Ramsay have also imposed bans on bluefin tuna at their restaurants.



California restaurants focus on suppliers
June 9, 2009, 1:01 pm
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By Tracey Taylor

Published: June 6 2009 02:21 | Last updated: June 6 2009 02:21

The cocktails have been ordered, the birthday greetings extended. Now comes the complicated part – deciding what to order from the menu at Pizzaiolo, an acclaimed restaurant in Oakland, California, known for its blistered wood-fired pizzas and regional Italian specialties. The conversation among friends gathered for a celebratory dinner centres not on appetite or taste but on the intricacies of provenance.

A dish of braised goat prompts the most debate – the meat is listed as being from Bill Niman’s ranch in Bolinas, 50 miles north of Oakland. Niman’s humanely raised Niman Ranch beef was the darling of the foodie set for years. But Niman left the company and has started afresh with a small herd of grass-fed goats, as well as a young wife nicknamed Porkchop. So what about the goat? No one doubts it will have lived a good and healthy life. But has anyone tasted the squid pizza with aioli whose main ingredient was sourced just down the coast in Monterey Bay? Another diner is leaning towards the Becker Lane pork with cannellini beans, artichokes, fennel and spring onion salsa because he’s heard the pork from this organic farm is unequalled.

Such menu dissection is not uncommon among northern Californian diners. They are choosy and, invariably, knowledgeable about where their food comes from – a result of interaction with producers at farmers’ markets and the fact that restaurants routinely highlight the provenance of food on their menus. They also live in a fertile part of the world with a climate conducive to producing quality ingredients.

The focus on suppliers is not new. Its local pioneer was Alice Waters, owner and executive chef of the legendary Chez Panisse restaurant and café in Berkeley, who, along with her peers and protégés, has been interpreting farm-to-table cuisine for years, providing shout-outs on her menus to all her favoured producers.

Chez Panisse was also one of the first restaurants to proclaim unadulterated fruit a more than suitable dessert option. It has been featuring a simple offering – whether a single peach from Frog Hollow orchard in Brentwood or a bowl of Sparkling Red nectarines – on its menus for several years. Last month’s café menu listed a bowl of Pixie tangerines from Churchill-Brenneis Orchard and Medjool dates priced at $8.

In January, Todd Kliman, the food and wine editor of Washingtonian magazine, pondered on National Public Radio’s Monkey See blog: “Do we really need to know the provenance of an egg?” And more to the point: “Shopping is not cooking.”

Russell Moore, chef-owner of Camino in Oakland, agrees that there is a way of writing menus that can make them seem like shopping lists. He and his partner Allison Hopelain don’t put producers on the menu. “There isn’t a bigger supporter of farmers than me,” he says. “But ultimately it’s about customers liking the food.” Moore only serves organic or biodynamic wines and doesn’t touch refined sugar but neither of these facts is conveyed to diners. “I don’t want to come off as holier than thou,” he says.

A backlash against showcasing suppliers doesn’t seem likely. For those who live in one of the gastronomic capitals of the world, there is profound satisfaction in knowing that the lamb chop you are about to tuck into was not only raised humanely but done so on local pasture land by a farmer whose name you recognise.

There is no doubt that producers have taken on minor celebrity status. Chefs on both US coasts are discovering goat meat from sources such as Niman’s BN Ranch and Marin Sun Farms. Chef-owner Daniel Patterson at Coi in San Francisco is serving it with “sprouted beans, seeds, nuts and wheatgrass”.

Thomas Keller, owner of French Laundry in Napa and Per Se in New York, likes to highlight the fact that he uses yogurt made by Soyoung Scanlan at her Andante Dairy in Santa Rosa for his yogurt sorbet with a cream scone, sour cherry and proprietor’s blend tea foam. And Boulevard, one of San Francisco’s most venerated restaurants, is proud to proclaim that the quinoa used in its quail stuffed with duck merguez is from Rancho Gordo, a producer whose heirloom beans have become so well-known they have spawned a blog and a book.

They may not appear on his menu, but Moore at Camino is happy to name-check several producers he holds in high regard, including Annabelle at La Tercera, “whose chicory and shelling beans are superb”. Just don’t go to Camino any day soon expecting to eat chicken. If Soul Food Farm isn’t sending Moore its “spectacular” fowls, they’re off the menu. “We haven’t served chicken since November,” he says.



Solutions for sustainability will guide Earth’s future
June 9, 2009, 12:33 pm
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LEN C. RODMAN GUEST COLUMNIST

Imagine the year is 2025, and we are reflecting on the progress made in addressing global challenges.

Nearly one decade into the turn of the century, the world’s population was 6.6 billion and growing, with most people living in cities. The nexus of issues we faced could be summed up in a single word: sustainability.

The century began with the world trying to find solutions to climate change, energy assurance, water scarcity, safety and security, economics, food shortages, transportation and many other competing issues.

We could see that to exist in 2025, future generations needed us to address issues beyond their immediate scope — not unlike the aqueduct engineers of early Rome centuries before. We had to design larger infrastructure solutions with a much longer life cycle that would span traditional political boundaries.

Early in the millennium, we recognized the growing interdependence between energy and water. The energy cycle was affecting water through climate change resulting in rising sea levels, increased flooding alternating with severe drought. Increased use of energy to process and deliver clean, potable water created complex challenges while the demand grew also for water needed for energy production.

We learned how to manage energy and water demand at a household level, giving individuals a direct opportunity to contribute to the solution, while saving money and reducing waste.

The island nation Singapore, for example, optimized its water program by aligning it with advanced, energy-efficient technology for desalination and recycled water processes. The country also effectively engaged individuals and public and private institutions to conserve water and take ownership of water resources.

Australia showed us a way to increase water supply in a low-carbon manner. Recycled water supplies were piped to major power generation stations to reduce reliance on water from another drought-affected area of the country. Water desalination plants also used wind power to lower the carbon footprint.

In the United Kingdom, major water utilities followed up on their commitments to adopt renewable energy projects by capturing tidal energy and sending it back in the electric grid, as well as installing wind power projects.

In the southwest United States, seven states cooperated to solve water supply issues along the Colorado river basin through collaborative approaches such as desalination plant construction to meet Mexico’s water rights and supplies. This directly addressed drought conditions and the effects of climate change on snow pack melt availability as a key water source.

Although many advocated conservation as the only real solution to a resource-constrained environment, others learned how to become more self-sufficient and designed systems to reduce commuting. In effect, we replaced subsidies on natural resources with penalties for over consumption. And the elimination of waste was as important as the generation of new resources.

Behaviors changed and innovative solutions were initiated to deal with issues surrounding the growing population in cities: in particular, food supply and potable water. This was a major undertaking with the world’s population growing to 9 billion by 2025.

One thing was clear. We could not simply discuss or debate the future; we had to plan, take action and then measure results. Yes, mistakes were made, but lessons were learned. The greatest mistake would have been not taking action. We needed to plan for systems that would outlive our children’s children.

Will this be how our story is recounted in 2025 and how the great minds of tomorrow will plan for the future by learning from the present? What will be the legacy we leave?

We must act now, using holistic and global views, to develop the best combination of solutions for sustainability. We know for the success of global sustainability we must collaborate, work and live in harmony like no time in the past, truly building a world of difference.

Len C. Rodman is chairman, president and CEO of Black & Veatch, Overland Park.

Posted on Mon, Jun. 08, 2009 10:15 PM