Madonna DunbarSpecial to the Bonanza

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February 24, 2012
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Tahoe's Austin’s Restaurant, Mamasake earn green awards

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Keep the Sierra Green honored several local businesses for their exemplary green practices as part of the 58th annual Community Awards, held on Thursday, Feb. 16, at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe.Keep the Sierra Green provides a platform for recognizing businesses in the north-central Sierra and foothills, which focus on strong sustainability practices in their daily operations. To qualify as a Keep the Sierra Green business, applicants are required to recycle, develop energy, pollution and water conservation programs, define how company purchasing practices are eco-minded, create employee awareness procedures, and complete energy and waste audits, and also get points for voluntary practices. The businesses receiving awards represent the most innovative and exemplary participants in the overall rigorous program.The award recipients demonstrating the best in green performance were Austin’s Restaurant in Incline Village, and MamaSake Restaurant in Olympic Valley.Austin’s Restaurant is an American comfort food restaurant that has been in operation for more than 21 years.About 11 years ago, John and Ashley Brimm purchased the business, and they immediately began to incorporate sustainability practices into Austin’s operations. The Brimm family has several restaurant operations, but it is Austin’s Restaurant, run by John and Ashley, that is the family flagship green establishment.John and Ashley work with a variety of vendors to offer to their customers as much locally sourced product as possible, paying attention to seasonal offerings and customer fluctuation to avoid food waste. Recently they entered into a partnership to offer Al’s Bees’ Honey, which is produced in very small quantity nearby in Reno, so customers who enjoy their famous cornbread will have the best local honey to drench it in!They began offering their to-go orders in compostable packaging, long before other restaurants had caught on to the new products. In their kitchen operations, they rectified past problems with plumbing overflows by developing an accelerated schedule for maintenance on grease traps, dishwashers and other equipment. Their contractors for commercial cleaning are required to use “green products” in the kitchen and dining room.And they have been tremendous program supporters for Keep the Sierra Green, featuring the KSG logo on all their advertisements and expressing pride in displaying the Keep the Sierra Green member logo.Mamasake is a Cal-Asian restaurant in Squaw Valley offering not only eclectic and tasteful food combinations, but they also serve up sustainability at no extra charge. Elsa Corrigan, the chef and owner, has demonstrated an extreme commitment to green practices and sustainability through Mamasake’s Sustainability Philosophy, and its Environmental Practices and Purchase policies.And the restaurant’s policies are not just paper. Elsa has attended the Sustainability Seafood Conference in Vancouver, Canada, and works with marine biologists to ensure the fish and shellfish received at restaurant have been sustainably harvested. Mamasake also offers antibiotic and hormone free animal products, organic beverages, and biodynamic wines. The green continues to run through to housekeeping practices too, with the use of recycled and unbleached paper products for the bathrooms and office supplies, recyclable to-go containers, and non-toxic cleaning products. Elsa takes care to reduce waste products, minimize product ordering frequency and purchase products from sources that are as close to the restaurant as possible.Keep the Sierra Green is sponsored by: North Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, Tahoe Donner Chamber of Commerce, Placer County, Nevada County Recycles, town of Truckee, Incline Village General Improvement District Waste Not and the Sierra Green Building Association.Visit for a current business directory or additional program information.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Feb 24, 2012 11:46AM Published Feb 24, 2012 11:44AM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.