The Kitchen Continues to Raise the Bar for Restaurant Waste Management

Periodically we like to focus on a local business and how they handle their waste stream. One of the best on Orcas is The Kitchen, owned and operated by Charles Dalton and Jasmine Townsend.

Recognized in 2010 by the Orcas Chamber of Commerce with the first-ever “Environmental Excellence Award,” The Kitchen has been ahead of the curve for years. The Kitchen’s philosophy is pretty straight-forward:

*Buy from local producers
*Buy organic
*Make it here
*Keep it simple
*Keep it fresh
*Enjoy your meal!

At the heart of The Kitchen’s success is composting. “We try and use nothing that isn’t compostable,” says Charles. “From plates and utensils, to cups and straws.” When you are served at The Kitchen, you receive your food on a wicker plate basket with a disposable paper plate as a liner. Utensils are wood chopsticks or bamboo “sporks”. The paper and wood products all go into the Kitchen’s privately-managed compost stream, and the wicker plates are re-used.

100 percent of The Kitchen’s food waste is either composted or fed to local animals. In fact, this year The Kitchen purchased a pig, and a local farmer is raising that pig on Kitchen scraps. Eventually, it will provide fresh pork to the restaurant.

The Kitchen just went through a monumental remodel—a project that was intended to take 3 months and ended up taking nine! One of the bright spots of the remodel is that it allowed them to stop selling beverages in bottles and cans.

“We were excited to sell draft beer from Island Hoppin’” says Jasmine. “Our new bar allows for that. It also gave us the idea to make our own sodas and shrubs.” Shrubs are a colonial-era beverage. They start with vinegar-based fruit infusions that The Kitchen makes in-house. These syrups are then mixed with soda water. The result is a sweet, tangy soft drink. “We love making these—they are really exciting to experiment with,” says Jasmine. Current favorite flavors are coconut-lime and tangerine-turmeric.

The Kitchen also makes authentic sodas, like root-beer and sarsaparilla. Best of all: no packaging. They are served in pint glass with a compostable plastic straw.

The Kitchen has been experimenting with a number of compostable plastics, particularly when it comes to orders to-go. Food goes out in an un-bleached paper box. A beverage to-go comes in a compostable plastic cup, with a compostable straw. “We have a little less control when people get food to go,” says Charles. “Our to-go food containers are compostable paper, but we can’t control what people do with them.”

The Kitchen is doing incredible things when it comes to managing their waste. “We are currently only producing about 2-3 gallons of no-hope garbage a week,” says Jasmine. We wonder if any restaurants in the County can beat that.