At Poco we’ve made a real commitment to operating as sustainably as possible which has seen us crowned 2016 Sustainable Restaurant of the year as well as Best English and Best Independant at the Food Made Good sustainable restaurant awards.
For a sense of what we’re doing have a look at this BBC Food video or scroll down for our green policy and the manifesto we operate by.
(Note: this video was made in 2013 after our bristol restaurant won the SRA’s award for the environment and while the style of food and philosophy are the same, it pre dates our London restaurant opening.)
Our Green Policy
As a member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association each year we’re objectively surveyed and accredited on a wide range of criteria from energy consumption and proportions of organic produce used to water usage and community initiatives. This gives us a percentage score which is how their awards are decided.
In 2016 we were given the highest scores ever achieved by a member restaurant, an impressive 93% in Bristol and 96% in London, something we’re deeply proud of. Here’s some of how we did it…
- Our chefs source food for its quality (freshness, flavour, archetypal representation of the ingredients heritage) and ethics.
- We select suppliers who follow Slow Food values; good, clean and fair.
- Our food and ingredients are chosen for their traceability, buying direct from farms and producers wherever possible, because of the close relationships and trust that creates. Because of this our ingredients are always evolving to reflect what is at it’s best and of the moment.
- If we buy from a distributor or importer we buy fair-trade certified ingredients when applicable.
- Our fresh produce is 100% seasonal without exception. 90% is British and the vast majority is sourced within 50-100 miles of the restaurant. The only fresh ingredient we import is organic citrus from Europe.
- Our dry goods and sundries are first sourced from the UK if they are available. Our imported ingredients are chosen for their absolute quality and impeccable ethics.
- More than 50% of our produce is organic and certified by the Soil association. We believe organic and biodynamic farming is the future.
- Our fish is selected by using the Marine Conservation Society’s online guide. We only serve fish that is recommended to eat and will not serve fish that is under question or threat. This means omitting many restaurant favourites from our menus like skate, monkfish and plaice.
- Our bar menu is equally strict. We serve predominantly organic, natural and small production wines. Several of our wines are English, one of which we helped to harvest. We recently made an collaboration beer with Bristol brewery Wiper & True and make a great many homemade liqueuers and infusions using foraged and herbal ingredients with english grain spirit as a base.
- Our food is nutritional, vegetable-centric, and made with whole foods and non-processed ingredients. All our fresh produce is seasonal and chosen for it’s quality without exception. Our dishes showcase local products of note and vegetables at the peak of their season.
- The menu is designed to be accessible, we have an extensive gluten free menu and are happy to make alterations to our customers wishes. We provide information about what ingredients the dishes contain, how and where meat and fish were caught and/or reared and if it is organic.
- 95% to 100% of our waste is composted and recycled
- Based on the principles of a circular economy, all our products are chosen so they can be re-used circulating at a high quality or reenter the biosphere safely, either by being eaten or composted or renewed safely.
- We order ingredients daily and allow dishes to run out in order to keep food fresh and avoid an excess of produce.
- The chefs and waiters weigh our bin bags each day, keeping a record of what and how much we are wasting so that we can analyse and reduce it in the future.
- If any wastage occurs in the kitchen it is recorded in a table with a column for reasons and actions to stop it happening again. This table is now almost always completely empty.
- If plate waste is returned from the tables frequently the specific dishes or elements of the dish are recorded and communicated to the chefs. e.g. we removed flatbread from the squid dish as many people weren’t eating it.
- Our recipes have built in rescue-recipes that turn surplus or bi-products into delicious dishes e.g. If we sell less mackerel than we expect, the chefs will notice the excess in good time and make an escabeche.
- We order products with little to no packaging, if a product isn’t available from any local supplier without packaging we will only purchase it if the packaging is recyclable. If a supplier brings a product with non recyclable packaging we ask our supplier to take it away and re-use it. e.g. polystyrene fish boxes.
- We have formed a cooperative with our local restaurants in Bristol for our waste scheme in order to compost and recycle all of our waste.
- We have a monthly meeting with the staff to introduce the new seasonal menu, discuss the ingredients, their provenance and any notes about their sustainability.
- We publish our green policy and manifesto online outlining our efforts and beliefs.
- Tom Hunt organises events with organisations such as Slow Food, Fareshare and Feedback to highlight issues in the food industry through celebration and dining. e.g. We organised a Slow food Ark of Taste banquet for 100 people last September with Giorgio Locatelli, Paula MacIntyre and Thomasina Myers. We organise two to three of these events each year.
- Tom is also a food writer for the Guardian and other publications. He writes recipes and articles focussed around sustainability view-point.
Bricks & Mortar
- Few industries are more resource hungry than construction which is why we’ve designed and built both our restaurants ourselves (not without a little help though) to minimise our impact wherever possible.
- We used recyled materials, reclaimed timbers & local materials.
- Natural stones and natural paints.
- We use LED lighting throughout and draw all our power from renewable energy.
Some of the initiatives and charities we support and work with
- The SRA
- Soil Association
- Slow Food
- Marine Conservation Society
- Action Against Hunger