The Plot is what you call hyperlocal. It’s a plant-based restaurant in Oceanside run by husband and wife team, Davin and Jessica Waite, that has, in a sense, created its own ecosystem. They use the produce from their gardens (right next to their restaurant) in their dishes, they recycle unused water from guest’s drinks and use it to water their plants and they use every piece of their produce to avoid throwing it away– building a zero-waste restaurant concept in the process.
“Our main focus is to bring food to people that is super comforting, familiar and delicious while still making sure it’s nutritious and environmentally respectful too. It’s a balance between all of the things we want to aspire to but still all of the things we love about food – a great dining experience, great service and great flavors,” said Jessica, CEO of The Plot.
And, if they can’t source from their own garden on site, they try to get their produce from local neighborhood farms. Their produce rotates based on the seasons and whatever the chefs are into at the moment.
“Any chef will tell you that the less distance that food has to travel, the better it’s going to be. We were just lucky enough to have the space and be able to make [the garden] happen. Having a garden, even if it’s just for fresh herbs, that’s the type of things chefs dream about, the ultimate toy store,” said Davin Waite, Executive Chef of The Plot.
Jessica’s mission to feed people real, good-for-you food started when she was working in healthcare. That experience catapulted her into her next career as a restaurant owner.
“I was interning at hospitals and just seeing how sick people are in our communities and realizing that so much of that sickness is coming from our food systems and that was this big wake up – no, it’s our responsibility as restaurant owners, as purveyors of food, to make sure that what we’re feeding people isn’t just going to fill them up but it’s going to make them stronger, healthier, happier, more inspired and all the things,” said Jessica.
That inspiration is the heart of their kitchen, where their team gets creative in finding new ways to avoid sending anything to a landfill. The goal: find a way to use every piece of food that comes through their doors. For example, kale stems might be thrown in the trash (or hopefully your compost!) but reconsider using it for salsas, creams or in stocks, like The Plot does.
“Just like an animal butcher has a chart of an animal and they’ve got all these different cuts that suit all these different purposes, it’s the same with plants once you start getting into it. It becomes fun,” said Davin.
Davin shared that his dad grew up in London after WWII and had to ration during the war, and it’s that concept of not wasting that was a big part of his life growing up.
“He’d run around behind my brother and me, closing doors and flipping light switches and stuff like that. Not being wasteful was instilled in me at a very young age. Since it was a part of me, it became a part of the cooking,” he said.
Davin says they do have a small trash can at The Plot for the little bit of waste they do produce. But, they try to get creative with waste to avoid sending it to a landfill like rubber bands, for example, that they turned into a rubber band ball. “Once you start thinking about it, there doesn’t have to be that much [waste],” said Davin.
When we think of food waste, it seems like such a lofty goal to avoid any waste at all. But, The Plot has inspired me to look at what and how I’m using the food I eat – and ways that I can, myself, move closer to a zero-waste footprint. If we took notes from what The Plot is doing and applied it in our own everyday lives – imagine the impact.
Let’s all channel our inner Davin and Jessica and try to make our trash can load a little lighter this week.