Simply creating vibrant flavours that make diners smile and clear their plates isn’t enough for Poco Bristol. Sustainability, locally sourced organic food, and a zero-waste endgame need to be on the menu. That’s why Poco Bristol won the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s (SRA) Restaurant of the Year Award for Environment presented earlier this month by its President, Raymond Blanc.
The SRA is a not-for-profit member organisation that helps restaurants improve sustainability whilst also raising awareness in those dining out. Poco’s methods of sourcing, community engagement and environmental impact were analysed, and after reaching 87% overall, they were awarded the highest of three stars for their commitment to sustainable practices. These environmentally-focused foodies were also highly commended in the categories for the best food waste strategy and the most sustainable restaurant of the year.
Poco Bristol was created by Tom Hunt, Jen Best, Ben Pryor and Pip Ritchie in November 2011 after success at festivals with Poco Loco and Poco Morocco. The ‘festival city’ vibe of Bristol, and in particular Stokes Croft, made them feel right at home. Recipes are a culmination of Tom’s world travels – think Anglo-Latin-American cuisine… Start your day with a New York style brunch, savour a super-food salad to avoid an afternoon slump, and let a British twist on tapas takeover in the cocktail hour and beyond.
Indeed this fusion restaurant has an impressive sourcing policy with 90% of all produce from the UK, and 75% of that must be from within a 50 mile radius. The other 10% of ingredients come from Europe but not via air freight. Their impressive (almost) zero waste is a result of continually trying to improve methods, from recycling, upcycling, and reducing packaging to offering food for free as pinchos before it comes to the end of its shelf life.
The SRA Awards are hugely important in publicising businesses leading the way in sustainability, and to show that taking an environmental approach isn’t just rewarding ethically, but also on your balance sheet. With inspiration from Antonio Carluccio and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the team left the Awards eager to improve even further. One of Poco’s creators, Jen Best told us:
“The awards ceremony was just an incredibly inspiring atmosphere. So many successful businesses are not only taking huge steps to maintain a sustainable ethos, but continuing to drive a healthy profit. Having a strong sustainability ethos can sometimes mean you have to spend more (i.e. buying organic produce), but it’s about ingraining the mentality into everything you do so it becomes part of your business.”
As a business concerned about keeping it local, it’s not surprising that they were keen to sign up to the Bristol Pound. The TXT2PAY service is working particularly well, and as they source locally, many of their suppliers are Bristol-based and using the currency themselves, so the money circulates back into the local economy. Jen explained how the Bristol pound fits into their sustainability ethos: “I would say the Bristol Pound is definitely part of our sustainability strategy. It is a way of supporting Bristol’s economy and engaging in the community. From an individual point of view, you are supporting the independent businesses in your area. From a business point of view, you are encouraged to spend the currency with local suppliers, and this has many positive consequences, such as reducing transportation to get supplies from elsewhere in the country.”
Sustainable, locally sourced, and full of flavour, Poco is our kind of business, so we’re happy to hear that a second restaurant could be coming soon…
You can find out more about Poco’s sustainable practices in this video from the BBC Food team, visit them online (new website of its way – www.eatpoco.com), or follow @Pocobristol on Twitter and Facebook. Better still, pop into Poco to sample their eco-delicious food at 45 Jamaica Street, Stokes Croft (and don’t forget to pay in Bristol Pounds to keep it local).