LEAF Awards: LEAF recognizes four leaders in sustainability in the foodservice industry


On Feb 27th, the first LEAF awards were handed out at the RC Show in Toronto. After a jam-packed three days of food, innovation and sustainability discussions, the show was capped off by recognizing leaders in the sustainable foodservice industry. 

We thank all of the applicants to the 2018 LEAF Awards, and are proud of all of our LEAF-certified members that operate with sustainability in mind everyday. We applaud your commitment to the environment and your customers!


Award: Most Improved
Recipient: Community Cafe, Calgary, AB

The LEAF program is not about perfection, but about continuous improvement in sustainability, and Community Cafe (run by Community Natural Foods) has demonstrated their commitment to striving for better. When Community Cafe first became certified in 2012, they were already operating in a sustainable manor - local and sustainable food, sustainable seafood, a high percentage of vegan and vegetarian dishes, wind powered by Bullfrog Power, water-conserving fixtures, composting, and more! Since that time, Community Cafe has aimed to become a zero-waste facility, purchased ENERGY STAR appliances, and become an official OceanWise partner, establishing themselves amongst the more sustainably run businesses in Calgary. 

We are proud to recognize Community Cafe for their commitment to always doing better!


Award: Greenest Restaurant over 10,000 square feet
Recipient: Diversity Foodservices, Winnipeg, MB

Ian Vickers, COO of Diversity Food Services and LEAF President, Janine Windsor  Photo courtesy of  Restaurants Canada

Ian Vickers, COO of Diversity Food Services and LEAF President, Janine Windsor

Photo courtesy of Restaurants Canada

Diversity Food Services operates a number of restaurants (Elements, Malecon, Pangeas Kitchen, Buffalo Stone Cafe) all of which are all LEAF certified. Operating a large-scale foodservice facility can present some unique challenges to certain sustainability goals (securing large, consistent quantities of local food, retrofitting components that are part of a larger institution, etc). Diversity Food Services has demonstrated innovation and commitment in overcoming these challenges and stands as a leader in sustainable facility operations.

Their achievements include sustainable (Ocean Wise) seafood, a high percentage of local food, wide variety of meat-free dishes, recycled and compostable supplies, LEED certified buildings composting, and more, making Diversity Food Services deserving of this award.


Award: Eco-Innovator
Recipient: Creelman Market

The Eco-Innovator award was open to any restaurant or foodservice facility in Canada that has demonstrated innovative solutions to sustainable challenges. For large scale facilities, procuring local and seasonal produce year round can be a challenge in Canada. Creelman Market overcame this by implementing a large scale food preservation operation, which allows use of local produce in their facilities year round. While the concept of food preservation and canning may not be new, the scale to which this facility has undertaken it to ensure they are using as much local food as possible every month of the year, has taken it to a new level and solved a local food challenge for Canadian food service facilities.


Award: Greenest Restaurant
Recipient: Chic Alors!, Quebec, QC

Hugues Philippin, Owner of Chic Alors! and Janine Windsor, President of LEAF  Photo courtesy of  Restaurants Canada

Hugues Philippin, Owner of Chic Alors! and Janine Windsor, President of LEAF

Photo courtesy of Restaurants Canada

In order to be eligible for the Greenest Restaurant award, restaurants had to be Level 3 (our highest) LEAF certified restaurant. While all Level 3 LEAF restaurants are high-performing and deserving of recognition, Chic Alors! stood out as a true leader for 2018, being engaged in all 10 of LEAF’s Areas of Sustainability. Chic Alors! has geothermal heating, electric vehicles for delivery, their own beehives, LED lighting and more. 

Hugues Philippin, owner of Chic Alors!, credits his decision to operate as a sustainable restaurant as a key factor in operational cost savings. 

Thank you to everyone who entered to win the award this year. Your commitment to improvement in the sustainable foodservice industry is inspirational.

Congratulations to all of our winners!


LEAF at the RC Show 2018!


We’re gearing up for the RC Show in Toronto February 25-27th - just a few short weeks away! As title sponsors of the Show’s Eco Pavilion, LEAF is very excited to present the “Pledge to Win” contest. 

The "Pledge to Win" contest will encourage foodservice operators at the show to make a “green” pledge (big or small) such as “go straw-less”, “switch to renewable energy” or “get LEAF certified” for the chance to win an “Eco” prize package to start their sustainability journey. 

In order to be entered to win, pledgees must share their pledge on social media with the hashtag #RCShow2018 and tag @LEAFCanada and @RestaurantsCanada. The Pledge to Win contest will encourage a large number of restaurateurs to implement new sustainability initiatives and set concrete goals. It will also bring awareness to the environmental impact of the industry and highlight how easy first steps can be.

The winner will receive an Eco prize package valued at over $1000.

A big Thank you to our “Pledge to Win” sponsors:

Restaurants Canada

Newspring Energy

Rethink Resource

Alberta Apparel


Intellinox Technologies


Other Must-see sustainability events at the show include:

Business Case for Sustainability
Panel Discussion
Sunday, Feb 25, 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Join us on the main stage for an enlightening panel discussion with Bruce McAdams, foodservice and sustainability expert, as he presents the business case for sustainability and how it can positively impact your business. 

Bruce will be joined by LEAF Certified facilities to share their journeys, successes and challenges around "going green" and being part of the LEAF program.

Bruce McAdams, Professor, University of Guelph


Brad Long, Chef & Owner, Café Belong & Belong Catering - Evergreen Brick Works 

Elio Zannoni, Executive Chef, Gusto 54 

Evelyne Gharibian, Founder, Hearty Catering Inc. 

Ian Vickers, COO, Diversity Food Services 

Cam McGowan, Executive Chef, CRAFT Beer Market

Save on Energy Foodservice Forum
Tues, Feb. 27, 7:45am-1:00pm

Save energy, manage your utility costs and help your business. Hear about the latest in energy efficiency programs and about available training and support. Learn from industry leaders and experts about the most innovative products, technologies, and ideas to manage your costs and increase your bottom line. Knowledge is power, don't stay in the dark.

LEAF Awards

The first annual LEAF Awards will be handed out on the main stage, recognizing leaders in the sustainable foodservice industry. Categories include:

Greenest Restaurant
Greenest Restaurant over 10,000 square feet
Most Improved

Don't miss this incredible show!

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.”

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