(6 minute read)
Whether it’s crafting cocktails from beetroot skins, discovering low-intervention wines from female-owned vineyards, making the most of our ‘no dig’ kitchen garden, or getting excited about bins (yes, really), our food and beverage manager Beth Bond lives and breathes sustainability and its creative possibilities.
Describing her job as leading the team to create experiences where guests can be at their happiest while carefully considering the environment, Beth finds and works with suppliers that share our ethos, develops our drinks offering, trains and coaches teams and collaborates with our gardener and chefs to bring to life our principles as a business for good – all vital on our journey through BCorp accreditation.
We caught up with Beth about her experience, approach and ambitions for Another Place, and how even the smallest changes can spark big ideas…
Where did your interest in sustainability come from?
When I started out, my boss at the time Chantelle Nicholson was really supportive. She taught me everything I know about working in hospitality and managing teams, but she was also very focused on making the business as efficient as possible. When Covid-19 hit, we had something of an epiphany about how we could keep cutting costs and making guests happy, but also run a sustainable business that would be an innovator in the space.
We started with small things – reusing food waste, removing linen, refurbishing with organic paint – and our changes won us a Green Michelin Star. From here, and still under the shadow of lockdowns, we set up a pop-up in Hackney which allowed us to flex our sustainability muscles even further. The menu was focused on local ingredients, all zero waste; it was very creative in terms of how dishes were made. And the cocktails were a by-product of the kitchen, so if beetroot was on the menu then I was using the beetroot skins in my preparation of cocktails. If rhubarb was on the menu I was using the odds and the ends. We had pumpkin for a long time and I was just given the seeds and the skins, like, “Do something with this!” It was a great learning curve and demanded I was inventive by design.
With the wines, I researched practising organic, low-intervention suppliers. If it was from a female-owned vineyard, I would say, “Get it on there!” Most of our menu was plant-based and I didn’t want vegans to have to wonder which wines they could choose, so the wines were vegan too. It was basically about doing all I could to create the most sustainable, ethical wine list possible.
“Having lots of bins, making waste streams easy and helping people on that journey actually gets me really excited – because it’s from these small changes that other, bigger things can grow.”
So how did that grow into scooping up wine awards?
It was exciting to explore the possibilities, and this was Hackney – it was quite easy to do that sort of thing there. Before long, we decided to open a restaurant in Mayfair, one with sustainability at its heart. That was a totally different challenge.
With the wine list there, I wanted to go ‘funky’, but it was actually a case of recalibrating for a clientele that would be expecting wines which weren’t cloudy, or wouldn’t choose a cider. I still wanted to work within my framework of principles – the wines had to be organic and they had to be vegan and do good things for their community – but they also had to be elegant appellations and grapes that people still recognised. So the wine list evolved; we had Bordeaux and Burgundies, but we also had crazy orange wines from Slovenia.
It was a real fun thing to do and we were recognised in the Star Wine Lists and nominated for Sustainable Wine List of the Year for it. The restaurant itself was nominated in the GQ Awards last year. In fact, in any restaurant awards going, we were either nominated or won them.
What drew you to Another Place, the Lake – and how has your experience and approach translated?
It was the perfect move for me because I wanted to see if I could create this sort of thing outside of London, and Another Place has so much potential. It has this incredible kitchen garden and head chef, Shaun Dixon, and a team with an appetite to make positive changes.
My thinking really aligns with the team here; we all believe guests want to make sustainable choices without any sacrifice in quality. As with any existing business, it’s been about identifying and implementing the small changes first – like streamlining waste, or talking to the kitchen and seeing where the opportunities are for working inventively with their leftovers. It just needs somebody with fresh eyes to come in and say, “Actually, it’s really easy, you can do this.” Having lots of different bins, making waste streams easy and helping people on that journey actually gets me really excited – because it’s from these small changes that other, bigger things grow.
“Another Place is about adventures and trying new things. I also want it to be the place where you can come and drink something a bit more challenging and exciting and be like, ‘Oh wow, wasn’t that incredible?”
So change of any size takes time?
Yes, but it’s been amazing how responsive everyone has been. I’m fortunate that there are a lot of young people on my team because it’s in their nature to think about sustainability a lot more. My biggest focus the last few months has been on working closely with the team to make sure they’re onboard and feeling positive and functioning well. It’s the fundamental groundwork for any behaviour change and is so important to get right.
And you have big plans?
Huge! But I’m learning to take things one step at a time. I’m really excited about the possibilities with our new wine list here. It will follow the same sustainability principles – so everything has a positive story, everything is practising organic, everything is vegan – but it’s not too crazy. It’s about introducing people to these wines and taking them with us in a gentle but engaging way.
For example, there’s a grape called Grüner Veltliner which is not so well known outside of London, but which we can encourage people to choose by explaining that it’s similar to a Picpoul, which they might know. So if they like citrusy, fresh, crisp grapes they could try the Veltliner, which is a bit more limey, a bit more peppery. Having those connections between what guests know already and what we’re going towards is so helpful.
And for the team too, it’s an education. It’s always exciting with a new wine list because you can start from scratch and open things and taste things and discuss them. For example, we have a low intervention Uruguayan orange wine, which uses a gravity-only process in its vinification – so no mechanics. And it’s also incredibly delicious, which is the most important thing.
You want to make sure guests still have a wonderful flavour experience?
Exactly. It’s a balance. Another Place is about adventures and trying new things. So you could go anywhere else and find an organic Provence rosé (which we will have on the list, because people love it), but I also want it to be the place where you can come and have something a bit more challenging and exciting and be like, “Oh wow, wasn’t that incredible? I can’t believe I had an orange wine from Uruguay in the Lake District!”
And being a pioneer and leader in that space sets a good stall for the other changes we’ll be bringing in – all focused on creative, inventive, delicious experiences championed by our team and loved by our guests. I can’t wait.