Sustainability at Graffiti Earth
Sustainability is central to everything we do at Graffiti Earth. Graffiti Earth focuses on being more environmentally-conscious in everything from the ingredients we utilize to the physical materials used throughout the restaurant. Just how are we sustainable?
Graffiti Earth’s menu emphasizes sustainability by giving plant-based dishes center stage while using smaller amounts of meat and seafood in ways that maximize flavor. Most importantly, it works with “ugly” produce that would otherwise go to waste because of minor (and non-flavor-affecting) aesthetic flaws, and underutilized seafood, like broken scallops, that can be caught without damaging ecosystems.
Some of the menu’s dishes that reflect this philosophy include Graffiti Earth’s Shitake Panna Cotta with Long Pepper Squid. Here, Chef Mehta uses one of his favorite cooking methods of ‘stretching’ a small amount of animal protein adding layers of flavor and texture to the dish. The dish relies heavily on mushrooms, which require very little water and are one of the most sustainable vegetables available giving the dish texture and richness. Shitake mushrooms take center stage in the panna cotta that’s rimmed by long peppers and marinated squid, sourced by Sea to Table. In Mehta’s Malbec Mole Duck with Pepper Seaweed Pasta, he includes highly sustainable and nutritious seaweed, sourced by GreenWave. Korean chile seared duck breast combine in a rich and flavorful Mexican-style mole sauce enhanced with red wine. The Garlic Coconut Soup with Chickpea Caviar is made with veggie scraps.
The menu is full of sustainable proteins, healthy grains and other ingredients chosen with the ultimate goal of reducing food waste. Graffiti Earth works with two organizations – Sea to Table and GreenWave – that promote the preservation of seafood resources with the ultimate goal to reduce food waste. By agreeing to utilize their seafood products formerly considered wasteful but are actually perfectly good to consume such as the ‘broken scallops’ used in his sublime Scallop Brûlée, Wasabi Yogurt dish, Mehta demonstrates how these underutilized ingredients can be easily adapted and incredibly delicious.
Outside the kitchen, Jehangir Mehta is committed to ensuring that everything utilized in the restaurant holds meaning from the repurposed furniture to the art adorning the walls and napkins made from renewable materials.
The artist Shreya Mehta, inspired by Graffiti Earth’s mission, was commissioned to create the multimedia paintings hanging on the walls of the dining space representing the four elements of nature: earth, water, fire and air. For each painting sold, 90 percent of the sale price is donated to charities benefiting women and children. The plates and silverware were culled from Mehta’s family collection, as were the two larger wooden dining tables. The decor that isn’t salvaged is recycled: napkins are made from scrap cloth and smaller than standard size, the place mats are pages from leftover newspapers and many of the glasses were made from old wine bottles.
Chef Jehangir Mehta has always focused upon vegetable-forward dishes dating back to his work as Executive Pastry Chef at Jean Georges Restaurant, where his desserts became known for their savory appeal and vegetable-based creations.
An impetus to the environmentally conscious and sustainable principles rooted throughout Graffiti Earth, has been Mehta’s intimate involvement with the Wasted Project with the University of Massachusetts Dining Program. Through this project, students are challenged to take the Mehta’s pledge of the day—a daily commitment to a different facet of sustainability with the overall goal to promote practices that support sustainability, social responsibility, health and wellness as well as a commitment to reduce food waste.
Chef Mehta is the chef ambassador for both the National Foundation of Celiac Awareness and the Mushroom Council; he tours around the country extensively to promote these causes. Mehta’s signature Graffiti Burger is known for its delicious taste and also because it is composed of 30 percent mushrooms instead of beef. Mehta is also a council member for Menus of Change an initiative of the Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.