Ted Turner Dishes on the Green Restaurant Revolution

Ted Turner Dishes on the Green Restaurant Revolution

The annual conference of the National Restaurant Association, called the NRA Show, got a celebrity boost from Ted Turner last week in Chicago, where the CNN founder and America's Cup champion sailor was the headliner for a session on green restaurants.

A noted conservationist, Turner has placed well over a million acres of open lands under permanent conservation easements and has revitalized endangered species. His partnership with George McKerrow Jr. (of LongHorn Steakhouse and Capital Grille chain fame) created the popularly priced Ted's Montana Grill restaurants -- which provide both a market for bison and a stimulus of sorts to the bison population on the American plains, according to Turner.
Somat Food Waste Liquid Extractor By Scott Seydel
Entertaining a capacity crowd in the NRA's "Join the Green Restaurant Revolution" education series, Turner quipped, "Since there are as many male bison born as there are female, and the fittest bull always wins his way with a flock of females, we solve the imbalance of excess young males ... we eat 'em."

McKerrow, who is a former president of the NRA and also an avid environmentalist, added color by citing "the Ted's" many eco-friendly efforts:

Dimmable FCL lighting at the restaurants saves $80,000 annually; paper straws and takeout clamshell-style containers are compostable; EnergyStar appliances reduce energy; waterless urinals reduce water use; used fryer oils are sent to biofuel producers; waste food deliquefiers save haulage and particulate residual solids for composting or fuel fermentation; and prepare-on-order cooking reduces food waste.
CPC Solar Tubes By Scott Seydel

This year's NRA Show featured a flood of green products and greenish gadgets ranging from biodegradable cups, plates, tableware, cartons, sanitary gloves and waste receptacle liners to waste food digesters that compost solids or reduce them to digested fluids and roof-top solar collectors that can heat wash water in a snow storm.

Devices and technology on display included the Somat Food Waste Liquid Extractor, pictured above, and CPC Solar energy conversion tubes that follow and super-concentrate the sun's rays using circumferential mirrors.

As with almost all retail industries, restaurant owners and their suppliers are feeling the pinch of the recession. However, the Ted's Montana Grill chain just reported its highest per store sales week as Americans seek "popular priced" dining with lots of atmosphere and large helpings, says "the Ted."

Scott Seydel is board chairman of Global Green and the GreenBlue Institute. He's also a director of the Container Recycling Institute, the National Recycling Coalition, Atlanta Recycles and New York's Coalition for Resource Recycling.

Photo of Ted Turner and George McKerrow Jr. and other images courtesy of Scott Seydel.