Profile: A Philadelphia Green Business Owner
For the past three decades, The Night Kitchen Bakery and Café in Chestnut Hill has served up designer cakes, breads and other baked treats. Recently expanded, this neighborhood institution now includes a café that serves up breakfast, lunch and brunch. One of only a handful of Philly-area restaurants that have earned the designation as a three-star certified green restaurant, The Night Kitchen has successfully met stringent guidelines for water efficiency, recycling, sustainable foods, building materials and furnishings, energy use, waste reduction, pollution reduction and more. For Night Kitchen, this has meant the implementation of a full-scale recycling program, installation of hardwood flooring certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, painting with no-VOC paints, using a farm co-op for local ingredients and collecting rainwater for the eatery’s flower beds and garden where it grows herbs and vegetables for use in the products served. It has also included composting through PhillyCompost.com, incorporating the use of recycled paper products, conservation of water through the installation of low-flow faucets and eliminating all plastic take-out bags and styrofoam.
Husband and wife team John Millard and Amy Beth Edelman are both chef/owners of The Night Kitchen Bakery and Café. Edelman honed her skills as a pastry cook and chef working at the Boca Raton Resort in Florida, The Intercontinental Hotel in New York City and in France, where she applied her talents while working for EuroDisney. After France, Edelman worked in Chestnut Hill, starting her own catering business which she eventually sold in 2000 to acquire The Night Kitchen Bakery. Two years later, she married Millard, who was soon applying his skills as a chef – via such venues as White Dog Café and Odeon in Philadelphia a and Café Max in Florida – to become the principle baker and co-owner of The Night Café.
Edelman, a Philadelphia native who grew up not far from Chestnut Hill in nearby Mt. Airy, channeled her love of the community and her passion for environmental issues into the creation and founding of the grass-roots organization, Green In Chestnut Hill, or GRINCH, with the goal of furthering sustainable practices in the Chestnut Hill area. With her husband and others – residents and business owners – GRINCH members strive to provide a forum for residents who want to adopt sustainable practices, raise awareness of environmental issues in Chestnut Hill, provide the community with educational programs about environmental issues and raise funds in support of outreach, education and green initiatives.
Edelman has been interested in environmental issues for her entire professional life – about 25 years. It wasn’t until the internet allowed her to find cohesive information and action plans, however, that she really dove into the green movement. It was a video about the tremendous energy consumption by the food industry she found on the Green Restaurant Association website, Edelman explained, that spurred her into action.
“Once I learned about the steps I could take, I shared the information with many of my fellow business people in the Chestnut Hill Business District. The GRA website is a tremendous tool and a great organization to become a member of for those who really want to reduce their restaurant’s carbon footprint. Most of the choices that save energy also save money. We have taken those savings and put them it into wind energy investment and compostable products.”
The couple maintains a close-knit relationship with the community, personally interacting with customers in their shop and the community through their efforts and activities of their organization, GRINCH, and via their online presence, which Millard personally nurtures. His love of computers and the couple’s passion for staying connected to their customers and the community mean frequent posts to The Night Kitchen Bakery blog and the Night Kitchen Bakery Facebook page, where he and Edelman promote bakery happenings, provide informative culinary advise and tips and share their insights and ideas for minimizing one’s carbon footprint via recycling, gardening and efficient use of energy.
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Christy Ayala covers sports, recreation, the outdoors, and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. She earned a masters degree in recreation administration from George Williams College and managed programs in the Midwest, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.