For the first time, The MICHELIN Guide is recognizing restaurants in its selection that are committed to sustainable gastronomy through ingredient sourcing, waste and energy management and employee well-being. The first class of sustainability distinctions in California were announced during the Family Meal virtual event on October 27th.
“Green Stars” were awarded to seven chefs and restaurants, including: Chef Thomas Keller for The French Laundry, Chef Alice Waters for Chez Panisse, Chef Dominique Crenn for Atelier Crenn, Chef Michael Tusk for Quince, Chef Kyle Connaughton & Katina Connaughton for Single Thread, Chef Matt Kammerer for Harbor House and Chef Nancy Silverton for Osteria Mozza.
Here's a look at why Osteria Mozza was selected for this distinction.
Osteria Mozza was destined to be a hit before it even opened in 2007. Chef Nancy Silverton had already made a name for herself in Los Angeles cooking and baking in the influential kitchens of Campanile and La Brea Bakery. And the restaurant — with a significant portion of the menu dedicated to Italian antipasti and a buzzy Carrara marble bar at which to eat it all — was a refreshingly new way to experience the flavors of Italy, in the middle of Hollywood.
In 2008, a year after it opened, Osteria Mozza received One MICHELIN Star in The MICHELIN Guide’s inaugural guide to Los Angeles. When the guide returned to California in 2019 after a nine-year hiatus, the restaurant maintained its award, solidifying its status as an iconic centerpiece of Los Angeles’ dining culture.
A lesser-known part of the story, however, is that Osteria Mozza has been an advocate for sustainability for close to a decade now. The restaurant has implemented over two dozen sustainability best practices, as certified by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), into its daily operations, thus reducing its carbon footprint.
The GRA is a non-profit environmental certification and consulting agency that was established in 1990, making it one of the industry’s oldest measures of sustainability. Restaurants who are rated and certified by the GRA must comply with a checklist of criteria that fall within eight categories from energy efficiency and waste management to staff education and transparency. Osteria Mozza has a current GreenPoint™ score of 193.03 points (the scale ranges from 62 to 300).
To illustrate just how deeply embedded practices of sustainability are, Osteria Mozza prohibits guests and delivery trucks from idling their vehicles outside the restaurant, which is part of a greater strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are low-flow faucets in the bathroom and kitchen prep sinks, to conserve water in a draught-prone state. And many suppliers and vendors are required to use returnable packaging, cutting down on waste.
Wherever possible, the Osteria Mozza team buys organic and local ingredients (from 100 miles or less), and sustainable seafood is prioritized. Part of that sourcing includes a commitment to plant-based ingredients — 31% of monthly food purchases are vegan and 10% are vegetarian. “We’ve always been very, very conscientious as to the purchasing of our vegetables and proteins, to make sure we understood how they were grown and who we were buying from,” Silverton said at The MICHELIN Guide’s virtual Family Meal event in October.
Ultimately, The MICHELIN Guide’s Green Star distinction aims to draw attention to the ways in which restaurants are advocating for and normalizing sustainability practices. Silverton is an important role model for the cause, alongside her top-performing team Executive Chef Elizabeth Hong and Head Pastry Chef Dahlia Narvaez, and she continues to lead by example.
To hear Chef Silverton speak about sustainability and the future of the restaurant industry, visit this link to watch a recording of The MICHELIN Guide's virtual Family Meal event.