Looking for ways to incorporate more eco-friendly practices into your business? Take inspiration from these Toronto fooderies leading the charge on sustainability.

An increasing number of forward-thinking restaurants and caterers are spearheading a sustainable dining movement, offering more than just satisfying cuisine; they are also pioneering environmentally conscious practices. 

Leading this charge are culinary innovators such as Frilu, The Goods, 1 Kitchen Toronto, Avling, 4Winds Catering, and Antler, each with its distinctive approach to sustainable gastronomy. By demonstrating that it is possible to enjoy delicious meals while being mindful of the environment, these restaurants are at the forefront of a global shift towards more sustainable food choices.

 

Frilu

A MICHELIN Green Star Restaurant 

Under the visionary leadership of owner and head chef John-Vincent Troiano, Frilu, a MICHELIN Green Star recipient, has become a pioneer in eco-friendly dining practices. 

Chef John and his wife run Willowolf Farm, a verdant oasis that supplies Frilu with the freshest produce. This symbiotic relationship between the restaurant and the farm forms the cornerstone of a regenerative cycle, where vegetable scraps from Frilu are composted and used to enrich the soil on the farm. 

“Our no-till farm produces fruits and vegetables for Frilu throughout the seasons; all kitchen waste goes back to the farm for compost to enrich the soil. We also use local Canadian ingredients throughout the year, buying from local markets and farmers.”

- John-Vincent Troiano, Chef/Owner, Frilu

The menus at Frilu are a unique experience, allowing the ingredients to speak for themselves. Depending on the season, you’ll find menu items such as Agnolotti dal plin made with bison and leek or “Sea and Ground,” a dish composed of fresh spot prawns from BC, fresh peas, caviar and buttermilk. Frilu also offers non-alcoholic pairings to accompany their tasting menu, including fermented fruit tonics, in-house made kombuchas and infused cocktails with specially curated fruits, herbs and spices. 

Takeaway: Support Local & Canadian Suppliers

Each dish served at Frilu is a testament to the restaurant’s deep-rooted connection with the local environment, with Chef John personally selecting the ingredients from the farm. By sourcing ingredients exclusively from Canada and emphasizing seasonal offerings, Frilu not only minimizes its carbon footprint but also offers its guests an unparalleled dining experience that is both delectable and environmentally conscious. 

 

The Goods

 A Holistic Approach to Sustainability

The Goods, a plant-based restaurant that also does catering, takes a holistic approach to sustainability, ensuring that every aspect of their operations, from sourcing ingredients to designing the dining experience, aligns with their eco-friendly ethos. A shining example of how a restaurant can operate in harmony with the environment, The Goods buys locally and, when possible, in bulk with a focus on reducing waste and delivering vegan menu options.

From the wholly satisfying Wholey Burger Double Patty made of two smokey spiced portobello mushrooms to the breakfast Homemade Granola & Sun Milk, the menu focuses on whole food ingredients designed to satisfy veggie eaters. What is sun milk you might ask? It’s a milk alternative made of organic raw pumpkin seeds, organic raw sunflower seed butter, pink mineral salt, and vanilla extract.

 

Takeaway: Low Or No Waste Products

In addition to a glass bottle program which reduces overall waste, the restaurant incentivizes customers with ‘Bring Your Own,’ offering discounts for home containers and a smoothie refill program. Through their catering, they offer family-style, boxed individual lunches that can be adapted for food sensitivities or provided as waste-free.

1 Kitchen Toronto

Local Purveyors from 100KM

1 Kitchen Toronto is deeply committed to sustainability and exemplifies 1 Hotel's mission to care for the planet. Their primary practice is sourcing all ingredients from local vendors within 100 kilometres whenever possible, significantly reducing their carbon footprint. This is done in partnership with 100km Foods, which connects small farms with restaurant kitchens, bringing fresh ingredients directly to the city. 

Renowned for its plant-filled spaces, 1 Hotel aims to leave a positive environmental legacy and to inform guests about the impact of their choices on the environment. The Garden Pavilion at the hotel grows a selection of fresh vegetables and the restaurant prides itself in being a zero-waste operation. Menu ingredients highlight the restaurant’s local-first approach with descriptors like Greenbelt Farm baby kale, Cookstown Farm roasted beets, and Hillside Garden cauliflower puree.

 

Takeaway: Reduce Impact of Events

1 Kitchen hosts quarterly events called “Supper that Sustains Us,” which feature a special set menu highlighting local partners. These events are held in a candlelit setting to minimize environmental impact and are part of the restaurant’s ongoing commitment to sustainability.

Event producers can take advantage of the hotel’s Certified Sustainable Gatherings, which offers three price points for events to add focus in six categories: waste reduction, low-emission menus, connections to vetted local vendors, responsibly sourced decor, the elimination of single-use plastic, and low-waste communications. 

 

Avling

Urban Agriculture and Sustainability Education

Avling, a sustainability-focused venture, is founder and operator Max Meighen’s brainchild.  Serving as both a restaurant and a community hub for urban agriculture and sustainability education, the centrepiece at Avling is a 4,000-square-foot rooftop farm, which grows a variety of vegetables, fruits, and botanicals for use in the kitchen, in brewing, and behind the bar. During the winter season, seedlings can be found growing in a corner of the restaurant. Avling also serves as a demonstration space, hosting workshops to showcase regenerative practices.

Avling offers rooftop farm classes and brews several beers, with a third of their offerings made from 100% Ontario ingredients. Max’s favourite is "Orpheus," a beer aged with Ontario wine skins and finished with dried marigold from the rooftop garden.

Takeaway: Support Regenerative Farming

The restaurant cultivates close relationships with suppliers. Max collaborates with farmers who incorporate grain into their multi-year crop rotation, benefiting soil health and biodiversity. Planted malting barley varieties are used as a winter cover and are tested and used in some of Avling’s beers, demonstrating the possibilities of regenerative agriculture.

“An American chef named Dan Barber once said something that resonated with me—vegetables grown in the most responsible way or raised with the most regenerative practices will taste the best. This encapsulates what I find exciting about the restaurant industry. It's wonderful to share something delicious while supporting important shifts in agricultural practices. The power of a meal can educate and inspire change.”

- Max Meighen, founder and operator

 

4Winds Catering

An Indigenous Chef and Educator 

The Indigenous chef and educator behind 4Winds Catering is Chef Douglas Trudeau, who serves the Toronto area and exemplifies the importance of locally sourced ingredients. With a strong dedication to minimizing waste and prioritizing sustainability, Chef Doug’s menu is a journey of traditional foods with dishes like his harvest spice white fish with three sister veloute, morel and cedar braised wild rice crackers, and tomato confit.

Establishing 4Winds Catering was not without challenges. Having worked in corporate restaurants, Chef Doug had to unlearn certain practices–like the vast amount of food waste some restaurants produce– to align with his vision for sustainable and Indigenous cuisine. He found some government regulations challenging, like the limitations on incorporating wild game, as they are contrary to the traditional practices of Indigenous Peoples who have a deep connection to the land and its resources.

Chef Doug’s vision for the future is one where people will be more mindful of the environment and the teachings it offers. He advocates for a shift in perspective from focusing solely on immediate needs to considering the long-term impact on future generations. He believes in living in harmony with nature and learning from it, rather than exploiting it for short-term gains. 

Takeaway: Learn from Traditional Indigenous Practices

Through foraging and hunting with his family, Chef Doug’s goal is to reconnect with traditional practices. He aims to share the beauty of Indigenous foods and educate others about the importance of Indigenous culture, which is deeply intertwined with the natural world. Through his work, Chef Doug hopes to showcase the richness and diversity of Indigenous culinary traditions and contribute to preserving and revitalizing Indigenous culture.

 

Antler 

Hunting and Foraging

Antler, led by Jody Shapero and Michael Hunter, presents a compelling narrative of sustainable hunting, celebrating its beauty through game meat’s ethical and sustainable sourcing. Their approach not only offers a distinctive culinary experience but also advocates for a more responsible attitude towards meat consumption. The founders’ commitment to sustainability underscores their belief in its critical role across the food industry.

Jody and Michael both love foraging and the bounty it has to offer. They own a modest plot of land where they tap around 40 to 50 maple trees annually. Each year, they collect approximately a thousand litres of sap, which they bottle at their restaurant. Yearly, they eagerly await the start of foraging season, and when possible, they collaborate with local foragers.

Takeaway: Tap into Niche Initiatives and Communities

Recently, they began foraging cedar bows early in the season and infused them with gin, showcasing the harmonious relationship between humans and nature. They have partnered with Nickel 9 Distillery in Toronto to bottle their creation, Antler Cedar Gin.

 

Where to start

The Culinary Tourism Alliance’s Feast On certification program recognizes businesses committed to sourcing and celebrating Ontario-grown food and drink. Feast On connects chefs directly to farmers to support the development of sustainable local sourcing systems. As a result, the program acts as a pan-provincial platform from which chefs, farmers and diners can share Ontario’s local food identity.

Bowery Project is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to create opportunities for urban agriculture through the temporary use of vacant lots. The project designs, builds and manages mobile urban farms in downtown Toronto and grows food for local chefs/restaurants and charities.

GreenStep Sustainable Tourism provides assessments, programs, and certifications to help tourism destinations and businesses measure and improve their sustainability performance. GreenStep offers a free business assessment so you can begin your journey at your own pace. A sustainability certification can make you eligible for a Certification Badge on your Destination Toronto business listing.