LEAF becomes ENERGY STAR™ Participant

LEAF is proud to announce that we are an ENERGY STAR participant. For years, our program has emphatically promoted the ENERGY STARY program for its important work in reducing the energy consumption of the foodservice industry. Energy use is one of the largest contributors to the environmental footprint of the foodservice facilities. With the ENERGY STAR program, foodservice operators can choose equipment that not only uses less energy, but saves them money in the long run. 

LEAF heavily encourages our members to replace their equipment with ENERGY STAR equipment when their current pieces near the end of their life, or when retrofitting their kitchens. In fact, the energy section of the LEAF criteria is one of the most heavily weighted, and using ENERGY STAR equipment significantly helps our restaurants reach the amount of points required for certification. In addition, to be Level 3 LEAF Certified (our highest level), at least 60% of a restaurant’s equipment must be ENERGY STAR certified.

We are happy to be working to promote such an important program. Stayed tuned for more information on the ENERGY STAR program, tools and tips to help you reduce your energy use further.

To learn more about the ENERGY STAR program, click here.




LEAF welcomes new Director of Eastern Canada

LEAF is pleased to welcome Sarah Letto as LEAF's new Director of Eastern Canada. Sarah will be focused on the growth and strategic development of LEAF for the Eastern provinces.

Sarah is an environmental sustainability professional who is passionate about helping organizations reduce their environmental impact. Her professional background includes senior management positions in carbon quantification and sustainability consulting. She has developed and implemented environmental sustainability programs for a variety of economic sectors including the global transportation and hospitality industries, working with organizations such as Marriott International and Virgin Hotels.

Sarah is a certified Greenhouse Gas Inventory Quantifier (GHG-IQ), holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree from York University, and recently completed her Environmental Professional (EP) designation from ECO Canada. She is incredibly excited to join the team at LEAF and continue her journey to help organizations reduce their environmental impact in the foodservice industry!  

We are thrilled to have Sarah with us - Welcome, Sarah!


Radical Gardens leads as first LEAF certified restaurant in Timmins, Ontario

Rad Gardens.png

Timmins, Ontario gained its first LEAF Certified restaurant in 2015. Radical Gardens completed an audit and was able to achieve Level 2 LEAF Certification. We talked to owner, Brianna Humphreys about the process, her philosophy and their accomplishments.

LEAF: Do you have a food or sustainability philosophy? What is it?

RG: Yes, food sustainability is a mainstay of life for us. We started as a sustainable farm and still continue to farm. I guess our philoshophy is that: We need to give back into the Earth as much as we take.

LEAF: Describe your journey to sustainability – where did you start, and where are you now?

RG: I started out as a pretty small time hobby gardener and then it got out of control and then I bought a restaurant. Since the environment is key to our survival as farmers we made sure to create out restaurant with that in mind.

LEAF: What are the benefits of LEAF certification for Radical Gardens?

RG: The benefits are really for our customers, this certification allows them to really feel comfortable knowing that we are very serious in our commitment to sustainability.

LEAF: What sustainability accomplishments have you made at your restaurants that you are most proud of?

RG: Our composting for one. Any food waste that we may have gets sent back to our farm. Also our disposables and the fact that 90% of it decomposes or is recyclable.

LEAF: Why do you think sustainability is important in the restaurant industry?

RG: It is really important for any Business; if you don't come to realize that the Earth allows you the ability to run your own business no matter what it is we will lose it. For the restaurant industry specifically, there can be a large amount of waste created from our line of work, it is best to make sure you leave this place unstained.

LEAF: What sustainability goals are you striving to reach in the future?

RG: Our next goal is to purchase a large industrial composter that makes fertilizer and energy.

LEAF: Did anything surprise you about becoming LEAF certified?

RG: Actually i was pleasantly suprised to see that the certification process is rather in depth and pretty rigorous. I'm glad this certification is held to such a high standard.

Visit Radical Gardens today:



163 5th Ave, Timmins, On


LEAF Announces first annual LEAF Awards!


Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Foodservice (LEAF) is pleased to announce the first annual LEAF Awards, to be presented at the 2018 Restaurants Canada Show February 25-27th in Toronto. Winners will receive a beautiful, hand-crafted award to display and be promoted through social media. 

This is an exciting opportunity for Canadian restaurateurs to be recognized for their commitment to the environment, the progress they've made, and the hard work they put into making their businesses as sustainable as possible. 

There are 4 categories to enter:

Greenest Restaurant
Greenest Facility over 10,000 square feet
Most Improved
Eco-Innovator of the Year

While the first three categories are only open to LEAF certified restaurants, the Eco-Innovator award is open to any restaurant. In partnership with Restaurants Canada, the Eco-Innovator award will recognize one restaurateur's achievement in implementing a new technology or innovative solution to a problem, which results in a significant reduction in the environmental impact of the establishment or facility. 

How to enter:

Deadline for submission for all awards is 11:59pm EST on Thursday, November 30th, 2017. 

Good luck to all applicants!

Congratulations Casinos of Winnipeg on achieving Level 1 LEAF certification

Club Regent and McPhillips Station restaurants, both of Casinos of Winnipeg, are committed to doing their part to support a sustainable future.  Both food and beverage facilities recently became Level 1 LEAF certified and are proud to join a growing number of green restaurant options in Manitoba.

Casinos of Winnipeg is acutely aware of the energy usage and kitchen waste that can accumulate on a daily basis. For Alain Dumonceaux, director of food, beverage and events, environmental leadership is par for the course in this business.

“I think restaurants collectively are in a position to place environmental and social value right on the plate and be economically viable,” says Dumonceaux. “A restaurant is also a great place to provide sustainable education and awareness to customers.”

The restaurants at Club Regent and McPhillips Station started their journey to sustainability with organic waste collection for composting.  Their composting program supports the development of a soil amendment as well as reduces the casino’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Because of the size of our restaurants, we felt that this was our biggest environmental impact,” Dumonceaux says. “Staff really connect to the [composting] program and are proud of their efforts.”

On top of composting, both restaurants have taken steps to improve water and energy efficiencies by using green cleaners wherever possible. 

For Dumonceaux, LEAF certification was an important step because it brings awareness to the fact that they are supporting the correct actions needed to protect ecosystems, support sustainable food production and become more sustainable. One of the most successful and rewarding strategies that they have embraced is a commitment to buying local.   

“Our chefs are especially proud of their efforts to both advance local food offerings and our commitment to serve only fair trade certified coffee.”

They are continually looking for ways to increase local offerings at both Club Regent and McPhillips Station and have recently updated their menus to proudly list their local producers and products.

According to Dumonceaux, the quality and supply of water and soil is just as much a concern for the restaurant industry as it is for the farmers who supply them.

“We need to use our purchasing power to support sustainable agronomic practices,” he says.a “Looking ahead our goal is to improve the efficiency of our organic composting program, increase our local food spend, and expand our fair trade offerings to customers.




Innovation in the foodservice industry

Innovation is a hot topic in the foodservice industry lately. It seems there is always a new or hot trend that consumers are eating up. And we’ve been happy to see some practices that were once considered ground-breaking, such as local food, sustainable seafood, recycled napkins and eliminating styrofoam, becoming commonplace. We believe that true innovation is about lasting change and should transform the way we do things.

At LEAF, we are currently in the process of updating our certification criteria and planning the release of Version 4.0 of our Foodservice Evaluation this fall. We regularly update our criteria to capture the ever-changing technology and innovations in the environmental and foodservice industry and ensure our standards accurately designate those who apply for certification.  These new standards will reflect the changes we’re seeing in the industry and continue to recognize leaders who find ways to improve their operations and bring sustainability to new levels.

We’re seeing this with simplified menus that cut down on food waste, chefs growing their own food on-site like Level 3 LEAF certified Chic Alors in Quebec, and menus that revolve around seasonal produce. The Coup in Calgary, who are also Level 3 certified,  have bee hives near by, which end up helping produce some of the veggies that diners get to enjoy. Some chefs are taking the hyper-local trend a step further and pickling their produce so that it can be used throughout the year, which is great way to offer out-of-season products in unique ways while staying true to a local and sustainable goal of offering in-house food. Although none of our LEAF certified restaurants have begun their own in-house butcheries, we think it’s positive that we’re seeing a rise in the number of chefs who are butchering their own meat. This means that a restaurant can use everything from nose-to-tail, bone marrow to broth, which truly make sure there is a little waste as possible.

Step away from food and more restaurants are also building their spaces with sustainability in mind. Deane House in Calgary is the lovely sister of Level 3 LEAF certified River Cafe and they have completely renovated their new space.  New repurposed elements of the original house are included, as are repurposed building materials, salvaged wood, used found artifacts and decorative elements, custom designed LED lighting, natural plaster walls, extensive composting and recycling systems, and an onsite edible garden. Deane House is in the process of becoming LEAF certified and the menu is similar in philosophy to River Cafe’s with a focus on local and seasonal farm-to-table.

“Sustainability at River Café and Deane house is a commitment and mindset, a constant reassessment of methods and systems,” says Proprietor Sal Howell.  “We’re continually looking at how we can be even more local and for ways to operate more efficiently and effectively. Our goal is always to reduce our impact on the world, which means opportunities for innovation truly guides our purchasing decisions and practices.”

Innovation is also happening with many of our LEAF approved suppliers. With consumers demanding transparency and sustainability from the foodservice industry, restaurants and suppliers are increasingly investing in food and agriculture practices. Hop Compost is a great example -- their food scraps are sourced directly from select food merchants and prepared in small batches.  Their closed-loop-system ensures each batch is made in one continuous load so that Hop microbe cultures never change. What’s more, each batch is made within sealed Cleantech containers using live data to automate temperature, moisture, and oxygen levels. The process takes 11 days and is so thorough it gives each batch a perfect zero lab score for Salmonella, E.Coli, and pesticide and herbicide traces.   

“Hop is invested in a more thoughtful composting process,” says Kevin Davies, Hop Founder and CEO. “We’ve taken care of our product, so that farm-to-table food merchants can contribute their scraps to a compost worthy of moving table-to-farm. This way, we can create a closed loop with local organic growers.”






Gusto 54 Restaurant Group Commissary & Catering

Watch out world, Gusto 54 Restaurant Group Commissary & Catering is making waves and there’s no sign of things slowing down anytime soon. Gusto 54 is continually developing new restaurant ventures and a key ingredient of their vision is the ongoing education and practice of sustainability.

With a passion for food, good value, and authenticity, Gusto 54 acquires goods from like minded local farmers and food purveyors. The business has been built with a respect for the past, as well as a passion to be new and relevant. In addition to recently attaining Ocean Wise certification, Gusto 54 Restaurant Group Commissary & Catering is now Level 1 LEAF certified.

They have always been conscious of environmental impacts, but becoming LEAF certified brought that awareness to another level. Prior to receiving LEAF certification, the Group Commissary & Catering operated under what some would consider to be typical sustainability practices, such as recycling.

“Since beginning the certification process, we have become more mindful about how we use energy on a daily basis; we’ve installed energy efficient lighting, tankless water heaters, and we’ve placed greater importance on incorporating sustainable and responsibly sourced seafood and produce items into our menus,” said Elio Zannoni, Gusto 54 Executive Chef.

Gusto 54 has also taken a closer look at internal operations and adjusted best practices as part of the company’s commitment to sustainability by minimizing waste and conserving energy wherever possible. LEAF certification has provided an opportunity to further educate the Gusto 54 team about the importance and impact of running a more eco-friendly business. Everyone has rallied around the sustainability cause, making environmental consciousness a collective goal.

They would eventually like to reach Level 3 LEAF certification across all locations and are currently working towards LEAF certification at two more locations. And if the past is any indication, potential future projects (such as growing herbs in-house and operating a Gusto 54 farm) are likely to take shape as the business continues to grow.

“If we all make the conscious decision to be even just a bit more sustainable in our day-to-day activities, we would have an extremely positive impact on the environment as a whole,” said Juanita Dickson, Gusto 54 President.

Gusto 54 began in 1996 when Janet Zuccarini (whose father was the first to import espresso machines to Canada) opened Trattoria Nervosa in Toronto. Since then, Gusto 54 has added a catering business, expanded its family of restaurants, and Zuaccarini herself is now featured as a resident judge in Top Chef Canada’s 2017 All-Star season.


LEAF Releases Annual Guide to Canada's Greenest Restaurants



Annual LEAF Guide to Canada’s Greenest Restaurants Released In Time for Earth Day

Victoria, BC, April 17, 2017 -- Food trends come and go but eating green and being sustainable continues to be a growing movement for Canadian restaurants. Support for environmentally responsible restaurant practices means a steady increase in green dining options, as shown by Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Foodservice (LEAF), who released their Guide to Canada’s Greenest Restaurants this week in honour of Earth Day.

“Canadians are increasingly aware of their environmental footprint,” said LEAF President, Janine Windsor. “Choosing LEAF certified restaurants, cafes, or food trucks means they are making a difference and supporting the highest standards of sustainability.”  

LEAF’s top five most sustainable restaurants in Canada are: Locals Restaurant - Food from the Heart of the Island, Comox, BC; River Cafe, Calgary, AB; The Coup, Calgary, AB; Degrees, Winnipeg, MB; and Chic Alors!, Quebec, QC.

There are now 85 LEAF certified restaurants across Canada and all of them have been reviewed in ten areas of sustainability. Once certified in one of three levels they are able to display the LEAF decal, which shows diners they are choosing a restaurant commitmented to green foodservice practices. Many use renewable energy, compost their waste, and use eco-friendly cleaners. Others no longer offer bottled water and all LEAF certified restaurants have eliminated styrofoam packaging. Most have made significant changes to energy consumption and waste management, which has resulted in significant financial savings.

“LEAF certified restaurants are foodservice leaders not only in their communities but across Canada,” Windsor adds. “They’ve committed to on-site audits, continual improvement, and are showing the industry that going green can be great for business.”

Follow LEAF on Twitter @LEAF_Canada, on Instagram @LEAF_Canada, and on Facebook L.E.A.F

Green Energy Essential To Sustainability In The Foodservice Industry

It’s no surprise that the foodservice industry uses a lot of energy. It has to. Refrigeration, cooking, lighting, and temperature control are all intensive uses of energy that most restaurants need to run effectively. And all this energy use has a cost that hits pocketbooks and the environment. That’s why choosing a renewable energy provider who offers energy from renewable sources such wind or low-impact hydro power is a great way for restaurants to do their part.

Many of LEAF’s certified restaurants choose Bullfrog Power as their green natural gas: a climate-friendly alternative to conventional, polluting natural gas. Making this choice means restaurant kitchens can operate their facilities with a much more sustainable approach that will significantly decrease their environmental footprint.   

These restaurants are also demonstrating environmental leadership by helping to advance the growth of renewable energy in Canada. More than 115 community-based green energy projects, such as Nelson Solar Garden in BC, and Vulcan Solar Park in Alberta, have come online thanks in part to support from Bullfrog Power customers.

Serving up authentic French food in Calgary, Cassis Bistro is Level 2 LEAF certified and proudly chooses Bullfrog Power to fuel their ever-busy kitchen. Deciding to go green was an easy decision for the team:

"The restaurant industry can be extremely wasteful and taxing on resources,” says Cassis owner Andrea Brassart. “Having a renewable energy program is essential to helping us offset the energy we require to operate. We are very grateful for the program that Bullfrog offers."

"Where you source your food from, is the first step to achieving a sustainable restaurant. Sourcing is key. We compost everything possible and are proud to be part of the HOP composting program. HOP picks up all of our food scraps and turns it into high nutrient soil." 

LEAF President Janine Windsor notes that Canadian consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their environmental footprint and wanting to choose restaurants that are committed to being sustainable.

A recent national survey conducted by Environics Research Group* showed that more than 70 per cent of Canadians believe the country needs to generate more renewable energy in order to meet the demands of the future. Which means LEAF certified restaurants are leaders in the foodservice industry and showing the way to a greener future.




The Calgary Zoo has always had sustainability close at heart. Their conservation efforts focus on the wild animals and wild places they care for and are connected to the zoo’s overall operations and environmental footprint. The zoo is a bustling tourist attraction with concessions and restaurants that host visitors and events throughout the year. They are a big facility with committed staff who decided they wanted to make a significant commitment to a greener future.

In 2015 they began an official journey that aligned their foodservice practices to the same goals that govern the safekeeping of the animals they care for. They dedicated a Green Team to celebrate the sustainable practices they already had in place, such as their LEED certified buildings, while also championing new initiatives that would move the zoo’s sustainable operations forward. They became designated as a 100 per cent Ocean Wise partner, made excellent progress around local food partnerships, supply chain management, and waste management. LEAF auditors recognized the changes that were made and earlier this year the Calgary Zoo became LEAF’s first Canadian tourist attraction to attain Level Two LEAF Certification.

Concession Operations Manager, Carmel Nicholls, told LEAF that the zoo made a big commitment to composting and waste management that focuses on both their kitchens and guests.

“Every time a child looks at the backboard of one of our three-stream bins and puts their empty milk carton in the blue bin, we’re making an impact,” says Nicholls. “We also changed our packaging and back-of-house procedures.”

This focus on waste diversion shows the impact a big facility can make when it focuses on making sustainability a priority. In 2016 the Calgary Zoo recorded a 53 per cent decrease in waste per guest during their peak visitor season from May to October. With 1.31 million visitors annually, this is a significant green change that will continue to have lasting impact.

The zoo team has also made some commendable changes to their foodservices by increasing both the size of their on-site gardens and the amount of local suppliers. Their chefs harvest herbs and vegetables from onsite gardens – a farm-to-table mentality they are especially proud of. Combined with the zoo’s composting program, very few organic items end up in waste and instead become part of the natural compost cycle.

It’s this dedication to continuous improvement that stood out to the LEAF audit team, who were impressed by how such a large facility could implement widespread environmental practices. The Calgary Zoo is hopeful that other industry partners will follow their lead by taking a more aggressive approach to changing foodservice practices.

When asked about her take on the future of foodservice sustainability, Nicholls wants to see the restaurant industry take bigger steps to reduce the amount of landfill waste that is produced each year.

“It’s also not hard to make small changes that have huge impacts. If every restaurant in the industry would commit to a greener approach, the ripple effect would be amazing,” she says. “Our LEAF Certification will increase awareness about our green journey with our visitors, donors, and the public. LEAF is making a wonderful impact in the foodservice industry and we are proud to partner with them in creating a more sustainable future. ”