Every restaurant can afford to introduce sustainable practices in their business, says chef Matt Stone, it’s just a matter of adjusting your attitude.
Working in a wine region is a lot different to what I’ve done in the past. It’s a lot more transient. In the city, often you build up a really big customer base of regulars, but it’s a little more difficult to do that in a winery. But at the same time, one of the biggest draw cards for me, when I started working here, was having the luxury of space – space to compost, space to grow food, space to park my car and not have to worry about cramming it into little alleyways.
We don’t use any seafood here, just because we’re too far from the ocean. So the local area really dictates the menu. Since I started here, just over a year ago, we’ve planted close to 500 square metres of vegetable garden across the property, and we’re composting all of our green waste.
We save about $40,000 a year in chemicals, because we use an e-water system in the kitchen. It’s what surgeons wash their hands in before they perform procedures. So it’s water that gets an electric charge put through it which splits the molecules and then it gets a salt solution added to it. You end up with a completely neutral cleaner and sanitiser, from the one machine. We use that for all our scrubbing: the stoves, the floors, the benches, the restaurant tables. It’s a $5000 machine, so initially it’s quite a cost, but from there it’s really not.
The end of sous vide cooking isn’t too far away, I reckon. Cooking in plastic bags and things like that is hugely wasteful and really silly, I think. Chefs are looking back to more traditional techniques now, and they’re using more food that’s local to their area, so there are less food miles involved.
The biggest thing is changing your mindset. It’s a matter of realising that these things take time. And once you become passionate about these things, it’s amazing how you can find money in different areas of the business to make things happen. It’s about attitude and time, more than anything else. If your business is doing well, there’s no reason that in a 12 to 24 month plan you can't implement some of these things.