Anthony Myint (Falls Church, Virginia, 1978) is a key figure on San Francisco’s culinary scene. Executive chef of The Perennial, his work at the head of this restaurant is the culmination of a life’s project that began many years ago when, with his wife, Karen Leibowitz, and a taco truck, he began selling pork-filled sandwiches on the city’s streets.
That truck’s success made the couple decide to set something up to continue serving meals: the positive response from the public resulted in them running a chain in Mission, the Latin neighbourhood of the city. Mission Street Food was followed by Mission Cantina, Mission Burger and Mission Chinese Food.
But there was a determining factor that differentiated his food from that of any other chain of restaurant-industry establishments: From the very start, his culinary vocation was very much marked by an involvement in social and ecological activism. A good deal of the profits from the different Mission restaurants were already donated to social causes and environmental commitments, although this was just the seed of what was to come.
Based on a comparative study of the carbon footprint emissions produced by a home-cooked meal, one by René Redzepi’s Noma, and a third by the Prime Meats restaurant in New York, Myint and Leibowitz discovered that the percentage of pollution produced in each case was very similar, because it came not so much from the cooking processes as it did from the carbon footprint of the food.
His conclusion was decisive: Restaurants could – and can – completely eliminate their CO2 emissions from going into the atmosphere and thus help reduce the environmental impact caused by humans.
This led to several consequences, and all of them have led Myint to become one of the most influential thinkers in today’s cuisine. The first was the creation of an organization called ZeroFoodprint, which works with restaurants in different countries helping them calculate and minimize the impact their activity has on climate, yet without affecting their expenses and profits.
Next, they created the world’s first restaurant with a carbon-neutral footprint. Called The Perennial, it is complemented by a sister organization: The Perennial Farming Initiative, which supports farmers and food companies that carry out their business according to the standards required by the establishment. The Perennial has its own vegetable garden, but is also supplied by local organic farmers; they choose their fish from aquaculture farms, and their meat is sourced from ranches that raise their livestock in a responsible way.
Every day, Myint works in his kitchen forging the links for a new chain of sustainable food production. His is an eco-friendly, haute cuisine with a global conscience.
By Miguel Ángel Rincón