Sustainability is on the menu and in the details at NYC’s Blue Park Kitchen

Blue Park Kitchen owner Kelly Fitzpatrick on one of the eatery's mycelium stools.
Blue Park Kitchen owner Kelly Fitzpatrick on one of the eatery’s mycelium stools. Photo Credit: ajm510 via Twitter

At Blue Park Kitchen, sustainability isn’t just an ethos applied to the menu, but the furniture.

The new concept is slated to open in mid-September with sustainable fish on the menu and stools and light fixtures made out of mycelium (yes, mushrooms).

We chatted with owner Kelly Fitzpatrick to learn more about the new eatery, located at 70 Pine St.

How did you think about sustainability for the menu?

The menu will be made up of composed dishes like a coconut bulgur and soft-boiled egg as well as a turkey meatball, fresh lemon ricotta and blistered tomatoes. We are working with the Greenmarket Grains Project to source some interesting grain and legume options from upstate New York. We source our vegetables locally as much as possible, and make all of our sauces in-house. We also want to be the go-to spot for your 4 p.m. snack and offer some healthful and flavorful options to take back to work before you hit the gym or for when you start to get hangry. We are sourcing some cool products from local vendors in Brooklyn, who just happen to be mostly women-owned business.

You worked with the design studio Ecovative to create mycelium furniture. What made you want to include a material like this in the space?

The name Blue Park came from the idea of bringing the park vibe indoors . . . providing just a small respite from the hustle and craziness of life in the city. Early in the construction process, I was introduced to Ecovative, a company based in Troy, New York, designing mostly packaging materials from mushroom mycelium, a type of naturally occurring fungus. We discussed the possibility of creating mycelium molds for furniture and after a couple of attempts, I think we have found a shape that works as a stool. Through Ecovative, I was introduced to Danielle Trofe, who designs amazing light fixtures with the same material. Between the stools and lighting fixtures, my hope is that we can introduce a very eco-conscious and sustainable material that is a viable alternative to wasteful plastics and composites.

Are there any other ways you thought about sustainability with the design?

In terms of the construction materials, the mycelium is really the only sustainable building material. I really hope to speak with more people to learn what’s out there and incorporate more elements into the next Blue Park Kitchen!

What is the main challenge of running a restaurant sustainably?

We aim to be a brand that people can enjoy multiple times a week, if not multiple times a day. With that goal in mind, we need to be under a certain price point which makes purchasing 100 percent sustainably-raised, antibiotic-free, etc. food a challenge. Understanding how our fish was raised and where it came from was very important to me, but it proved nearly impossible to gather any information on aquaculture or fishing practices from most distributors. I finally found a small purveyor who is providing us with fresh salmon from the Faroe Islands that is antibiotic-free, hormone-free and is the most delicious fish I’ve had in a very long time.

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