New Saudi organic restaurant puts sustainability, environment top of menu

JEDDAH (Arabnews): Sustainability and the environment have been placed top of the menu at a new Saudi restaurant.

Established three months ago by Saudi nationals Mohammed Mosalli and Abdulelah Al-Hadidi, Jeddah-based Nawa Patio offers a range of organic international fusion cuisine.

But it is not just the eatery’s food that is designed to nourish — customers can also take part in yoga and meditation classes or grow their own vegetables.

Mosalli told Arab News: “It’s an experience. We like to call ourselves a conscious patio because we support sustainability practices.

“We offer yoga and meditation classes here, and we invite our customers to come and learn and sow seeds in our planting zone. We ask them to make an intention and plant,” he said.

The restaurant’s design theme has been inspired by ancient civilizations such as the Sumerians, Thamud, Lihyan, and Nabataeans.

“Regarding the look and feel of the place, the fit out and furniture are made up of all natural elements, like wood, stones, clay, plants, and so on,” Mosalli added.

And the use of plastic is avoided wherever possible. “We use recyclable or compostable materials when it comes to plastic or paper.

“In the kitchen, we have a plan first to educate our staff and our customers, when it comes to sustainability practices, how to manage food waste … it’s about how to order less food and how to manage waste,” he said.

A compost machine in the kitchen is used to handle leftover food from customers’ plates.

“We give them the option of giving it to us to utilize in the compost machine. And then we can use the end product as soil for plants,” he added.

Diners are also encouraged to take home their excess food or give it to local food banks, charity organizations, and humanitarian programs.

Al-Hadidi said: “Nawa Patio is all about impact, and we recruit people who share our values, people who want to contribute to the enrichment of our guests and customers.

Abdulelah Al-Hadidi

“That’s why even though some of them might not have the experience, we just focus on their attitudes and the values they share with Nawa, and we recruit accordingly.”

The restaurant’s music playlist has been customized to deliver a comfortable, calming effect.

“People want to go to places that really meet their expectations in terms of the vibe, look, and feel of the place.

“Therefore, we pay very special attention to our music, and ensure we play music that fits the mood for the morning, afternoon, and evening — we have customized our playlist to mimic the brainwave frequency that best suits people at a particular part or time of the day,” Al-Hadidi added.

South African head chef, Abdullah Abrahams, said the restaurant used unwanted offcuts so that no food went to waste.

“We have a dish that we are still working on, which is the sweet potato Wagyu taco. Using the offcuts of sweet potato from a main dish, we try to transform it into a sweet potato dough and then use it as the base or the bread.

“And recently, we have discussed using offcuts for our soup of the day. There is so much that can be produced from food waste. Mohammed and Abdulelah inspired me and caught my attention with regards to the whole concept of trying to be more sustainable, eco-friendly, and lessen our carbon footprint on Earth.

“We don’t have a fryer in the kitchen. The whole restaurant is on the same wavelength of thinking about how to help Earth,” he added.

Abrahams noted that it was important to develop a kitchen culture surrounding the need to avoid discarding food.

He said: “I’m big on sustainability with regards to thinking about how not to throw food away, and I look to change the thinking patterns of my chefs too.”