Chef Kevin Templeton
Updated: Jan 23
The United States wastes 30-40% of its food supply each year which has an approximate value of $161 billion. Meanwhile, more than 54 million people are food insecure in 2020 (18 million of which are children), showing a 45% increase from before COVID. This emphasizes the important role restaurants and hotels have in educating their customers about food sustainability and to act as an example and leader in these efforts.
Chef Kevin Templeton from San Diego has set out to be just that through his restaurant and his efforts in the community.
Nurturing a passion for cooking since the age of 17, Kevin Templeton attended and graduated with honors from the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon. Following graduation, Kevin returned to San Diego to work in restaurants throughout the county. He perfected his culinary talents at top restaurants such as Top of The Cove, Peohe’s, and Azul La Jolla. Kevin’s extensive wine and spirits knowledge complemented his flair for complex flavor profiles, accenting his extraordinary cooking style. Eventually he took some time away from San Diego to experience the culinary world of Austin, Texas. Upon his return to SoCal, he brought fresh ideas as the Executive Chef of The Verant Group’s well-loved dining and drinking destination, barleymash.
You are well respected in the San Diego culinary scene for your efforts towards sustainability and in reducing waste. How do you approach sustainability in your restaurant operations?
K.T.: I have approached sustainability in my restaurant operations from the ground up. I have a great relationship with all of my local vendors, so I set a series of demands right away. All our seafood has to be sustainable and highly recommended from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Our meats and poultry are sourced to be humanely raised and harvested, with no hormones or antibiotics added to any of the meats. Our produce company mainly sources from local farms between San Diego and LA. We ensure that 75 - 80% of all the produce used at Barleymash is organic and sourced locally.
When I wrote the menu for barley, I made it a point to cross utilize all items in the kitchen. This minimizes waste of product. Even all the little pieces and ends of carrots, celery, onion, etc. go into a veggie stock we use in all our braising and sauce making.
Can you go tell us about your involvement with Olivewood Gardens?
K.T.: We have worked with Olivewood Gardens since we opened barleymash (almost 9 years now). We make everything from scratch at Barleymash, so we ended up with a good amount of pre consumer vegetable scrap. I wanted to find a place that could use all of this scrap for composting. I have some amazing fellow Chef friends that told me about Olivewood and what they do for San Diego schools and families. Every week, I load up my truck with close to 700 - 800 pounds of pre consumer scrap and take it to Olivewood Gardens. This scrap provides a wonderful start to large piles of compost that eventually turn into nutrient rich soil for the gardens. This also reduces the amount of waste that goes to our landfills. We also often partner up with Olivewood for fundraisers and local events. It has been a wonderful relationship. Plus, there is something calming and wonderful about walking through their gardens and seeing what is growing. Their Head Gardener is full of knowledge, so I love picking his brain.
Why did you decide to make sustainability and giving back to the community such a big part of your business strategy?
K.T.: Practicing sustainability and working with the community was never a strategy for our business. It's just the right thing to do. I was very fortunate to have business partners and bosses that understood my passion for organic/sustainable/non-GMO cooking. Although it certainly isn't a cheap way of running a business, it's the right way to do so. My partners and myself were all born and raised in San Diego, so we live, eat, and breathe our hometown. Whatever we can do for this city, we do. It’s so wonderful to give back to America's finest city!
Can we look forward to any new projects or new restaurants you plan to open?
K.T.: Our newest project has been expanding our coffee and bagel concept, Spill the Beans. We just opened our second location in beautiful Seaport Village. We will hopefully be opening more of those soon. The next big project will be to fully open back up after this horrible pandemic that produced a massive blow to our industry. I know that I speak for everyone when I say, "I can't wait for things to go back to normal”.