Taste Your Oregon: Thyme Restaurant - TR McCrystal
We try to take an approach where we minimize: the quality goes into the preparation of food, and we try to give portions that are more realistic so we won’t have left over food coming back into the kitchen that we can’t use because of health codes.
TR McCrystal – Executive Chef, Thyme Restaurant
Why did you make Thyme a sustainable restaurant?
Well, sustainable is a relative term these days—it’s challenging to be completely sustainable but you do as much as you possibly can because in the restaurant business, things can be very wasteful. We try to take an approach where we minimize: the quality goes into the preparation of food, and we try to give portions that are more realistic so we won’t have left over food coming back into the kitchen that we can’t use because of health codes. A smaller portion of very flavorful food that’s presented well will mean far less waste. The restaurant industry tends to lean on the wasteful side—lots of paper products, plastic. That’s why we chose fine dining. We have the opportunity to use plates, silverware and linen and avoid using products that just go into landfill. Whatever we can do.
What are some of Thyme’s’s sustainability practices?
We try to develop relationships with local producers of cheeses, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and some of the farm-raised animals. We purchase local produce and Northwest-focused products. We also have a team that essentially breaks down all of the recycling and makes sure that we’re separating everything out. We use things that we can wash or clean—we have linens and table settings that we wash and re-use. Our appliances are all energy efficient, like low-flow toilets. And as we learn more about what we can do, we try to do it, if it is economically feasible. We try really hard to maintain the programs we put in place, which requires constant vigilance on our parts to make sure employees are trained well and part of a collective mindset that ‘s working toward the same goal of being as sustainable as possible.
Do you think there’s been a payoff for making Thyme sustainable?
For my conscience, yes—I am concerned about all the waste, and whatever we can do to minimize it we will do. But it doesn’t drive our business. Most of our customers just think Thyme is a great place to eat. But we feel good about what we do, and we hope we will help raise consciousness about sustainability and maybe get some people to change their attitudes about it. It’s becoming more and more mainstream, and that encourages me.
Why do you support OEC?
We want to participate in changing people’s consciousness about sustainability and the environment. That wraps it up in a nutshell for us. I hope this evening just inspires. It’s a lofty goal to get to full sustainability, and if we just keep working at it and thinking about it, it will keep getting better and better.