Paving a green road to success

JACKSON, WY — In the working world, we tend to categorize jobs as “white collar” or “blue collar.”

Josh Hirschmann, General Manager and Sustainability Coordinator for Local Restaurant and Bar, has built a career from what he calls a “green collar” job. What’s it mean? It means his career in Jackson is dedicated to making the town greener, or more sustainable.

“I feel like I moved forward because I demonstrated the ability to lead through sustainability,” Hirschmann said.

Indeed, sustainability paved the path to success in Hirschmann’s career. But in exchange, Hirschmann has paved a new path for restauranteurs around town to follow his leadership and implement more sustainable practices.

Last year’s Harvest Dinner. Hirschmann’s the guy in the black vest. Photo: Chris Kitchen

“It’s just better business,” Hirschmann said. “If you demonstrate that you actually make more money [using sustainable business practices], there’s really no argument against it. Efficiency adds to the bottom line, our staff morale is boosted by our commitment to environmental practices, and the local community feels better about dining at a restaurant with shared values.”

At Local, sustainable business practices start with the work culture. Hirschmann encourages all of his employees to act responsibly in their daily practices. You won’t find plastic straws in your drink at Local. The biggest thing, though, is in the restaurant’s name: local food.

“Food sourcing is always a priority for us,” Hirschmann said. Local tries to source as much food locally as possible. When they do butcher in-house, Local chefs try to use the entire animal, like bone marrow from Lockhart Ranch. Portion sizes are also really important, Hirschmann said. Local doesn’t want to give you more than you can eat and create unnecessary food waste.

Of course, Hirschmann isn’t pioneering restaurant and food sustainability alone. Hirschmann met Slow Food in the Tetons  Director Scott Steen met while Steen was a consultant for the Jackson Hole & Yellowstone Sustainable Destination Program. They have since developed a close professional relationship between Local and Slow Food, and are “always sitting down and meeting” about sustainable business practices. Local has donated up to $40,000 to Slow Food programs over the years. Paul Wireman recently joined the Slow Food board. Jess Wireman, meanwhile, continues to serve on the Board of Advisors to Teton County Integrated Solid Waste and Recycling, proving that sustainability at Local is prioritized from the top down.

Slow Food Director Scott Steen at last year’s Harvest Dinner. Photo: Chris Kitchen

Together, Hirschmann and Slow Food introduced the Harvest Dinner, a gathering and celebration of local food and Hirschmann’s favorite night of the year. In the past, the Harvest Dinner was a five-course meal featuring foods from dozens of local farmers, ranchers, and local food/drink purveyors. The farmers attend the dinner and spoke about the ingredients they grew in between each course. This year, they’re embarking on a slightly different endeavor: the Farm to Fork Festival. Farm to Fork will maintain the spirit of local food education and celebration, but the goal is to make it a little more accessible to the public — because everyone deserves to celebrate local food.

Perhaps Hirschmann’s proudest accomplishment so far was Local winning the Green to Green award from the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce in 2016. Local now shares the award with Slow Foods, who won it in 2017. The award recognizes a business that “has shown a commitment to the environment by prescribing to innovative and effective environmentally conscious business practices,” according to the Chamber website.

Hirschmann has also taken the reins as Green Team Leader at this year’s Eco-Fair, happening this Saturday, May 11 at the Snow King Ball Field.

Looking for ways to get involved in sustainability? An easy way is to volunteer at the Eco-Fair this weekend. Join the Eco-Fair Green Team and get a $5 food voucher plus a free beer for every shift worked.

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