To become 'greener,' some high-profile restaurant owners are forgoing bottled water in favor of tap water. Culinary schools are keeping a close eye on this trend.
No More Bottled Water for Alice Waters
Chef Alice Waters, environmentally conscious owner of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, switched the restaurant to tap water about a year ago. "It just makes sense to us to not have to use all the energy and resources to bottle water in Italy and then truck it to our restaurant and then after that deal with the recycling of it," Waters said in a Bloomberg.com interview. The restaurant installed a carbonator that can create sparkling water.
Iron Chef Batali Bans Bottles
In Manhattan, Food Network Iron Chef Mario Batali's restaurant, Del Posto, has also stopped offering bottled water. Del Posto co-owner, Joe Bastianich, told NBC News, "We'll take New York City tap water, basically purify it through reverse osmosis, profile it again, adding back minerals and salts to create our own water."
Enhanced Tap Water: Who Pays?
Many restaurants, including Chez Panisse and Del Posto, offer their tap water--even their carbonated, triple-filtered, mineral-enhanced, reverse-osmosis tap water--free to customers. After all, charging $5 to $8 for a bottle of water was one of the things that made the restaurateurs uncomfortable. But installing and maintaining tap-water-enhancing equipment can cost restaurant owners thousands of dollars.
For this reason, some restaurants charge customers as much for souped-up tap water as they once charged for designer bottled water. The Wall Street Journal reports, "Last October, San Domenico, an upscale Italian spot in New York, began selling $8 liter bottles of flat and sparkling [tap] water. In Beverly Hills, Enoteca Drago now sells similar stuff for $5."
Ecologically, enhancing tap water makes more sense than buying and reselling bottled water and then sending the bottles to the landfill--but customers may not see a difference in a smaller dinner bill. Culinary schools are watching this trend with interest.
Wall Street Journal