As with any business, Acorn House restaurant in King's Cross will reflect the philosophy of its creators when it opens next month. However, unusually for the restaurant trade, this is based as much in its environmental ethos as it is in quality food and service.
The restaurant is the result of a joint initiative between the Shoreditch Trust, a charitable regeneration agency, and the leading HIV and sexual health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust, which owns the building in Swinton Street.
Over a meal at the training restaurant the Hoxton Apprentice, a venture which the Shoreditch Trust is already involved in, a pair of the charities' executives realised that the two trusts had the resources for a similar concept. Next day they brought on board Bliss Restaurant Consultancy, set up by Arthur Potts Dawson, former head chef of Fifteen and the River CafŽ, and the idea became reality.
The restaurant will train 10 young chefs a year from Hackney, Camden and the surrounding area. While he's adamant that standards will be high, Potts Dawson wants the restaurant to reflect his own beliefs. "Green issues are central to my ethos and that rolls into any businesses I'm involved in," he says. From the smallest details up, he wants every aspect to be environmentally sound.
- Recycling: Potts Dawson has ensured that 100% of kitchen waste is recycled through composting and recycling.
- The restaurant aims to tap the water purification system in the coffee machine to distill mains water. This will allow it to be bottled, chilled and served instead of mineral water, saving on glass and plastic usage as well as goods transportation.
- Lighting: Pale colours and natural light have been used as much as possible, meaning electric lighting need be used only in the evening.
- All take-away packaging used in the restaurant will biodegrade within four weeks, and comes from recycled sources.
- Supply: The restaurant will run a loop system for supply and removal of produce. A van will collect produce from suppliers and deliver to the restaurant to minimise multiple journeys. "Eventually we would like this to be done in a bio-diesel van, but the cost is a major obstacle," says Potts Dawson. Wooden crates will also be used and returned to suppliers the same day.
- All vegetables are sourced from sustainable farmers, who use techniques aimed at minimising energy waste. Air-freighted produce is never used.
- Customers will be invited to make a 50p donation to plant a tree, offsetting their carbon footprint in travelling to the restaurant.
- Staff will be encouraged to cycle to work.