Sea of Change
Guided by criteria set forth by the Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Restaurants program, top O.C. chefs are saying no to single-use plastics used for straws, bags and bottles, and saying yes to sustainable fish choices and proper recycling practices. Global and industrial action to reduce the estimated 5 to 13 million tons of plastic that enter the ocean each year starts at a grass-roots level. Here’s how local chefs are stepping up to the plate.
Do you believe that chefs and restaurants have the ability to influence environmental change on a larger level?
Chef Craig Strong, Ocean at Main: Environmental change comes from choices. We can choose to source sustainable and local ingredients, recycle, and act responsibly to be good stewards of our community and, on a larger scale, our planet. It’s a powerful symbiotic relationship.
What inspired you to commit to ocean-friendly practices?
Chef Greg Daniels, Harley Laguna Beach: Educating myself on differences between things like line-caught versus rod-and-reel caught, supporting others who practice sustainability, and responsible sourcing. There’s still a lot of misinformation out there. The seafood market is huge worldwide, and there are whole species disappearing or being overfished just because everyone wants to eat what they’ve always eaten.
How does the diner experience ocean-friendly practices at your restaurant?
Chef Kyle St. John, Harvest at the Ranch at Laguna Beach: We use paper straws, and compostable to-go containers and silverware. We also have an onsite glass crusher, so we recycle all of our beer, wine and glass bottles on property. We then sift the finely crushed glass through different coarseness and use the fine sand to fill our bunkers on the golf course.
Why join the Ocean Friendly Restaurants program?
Restaurateur Trevor Baird, Trevor’s at the Tracks: I wanted to bring an environmentally conscientious concept to the area, where very few exist. It’s not about having another feather in the hat. We need to set the standard and lead by example to show there is a better way.
Have you received any feedback from customers regarding your ocean- friendly practice?
Chef Ivan Calderon, Taco Mesa: The majority of our guests and younger employees are very supportive of our initiatives to eliminate single use plastics, however as we take these steps to reduce our plastic use, we realize just how much more we can be doing regarding our environmental practices.
To find Surfrider Foundation Ocean Friendly Restaurants near you, visit surfrider.org.