What’s Cooking? The LEED of Fine Dining

By Rona Berg / November 5, 2012

Organic bedding has the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Personal-care products can get certified by USDA, EcoCert, Na True, among others. And now, fine dining has SPE, a new certification program for restaurants that qualify by offering “nutritious and delicious” meals, says David M. Eisenberg, MD, Associate Professor of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, and advisor to SPE.

SPE stands for “Sanitas Per Escam” or “health through food.” Founded by restaurateur Emmanuel Verstraeten in Brussels, SPE made its debut in the US at Rouge Tomate (rougetomatenyc.com), a Michelin-starred restaurant in midtown Manhattan. “SPE builds a bridge between nutrition and the culinary worlds,” Verstraeten says. SPE executive chef Anthony Moraes and culinary nutritionist Natalia Hancock, R.D. (pictured above), consult with chefs to create recipes that are nutrient-rich, seasonal and locally sourced. Similar to LEED, restaurants can choose from four levels of certification: certified, silver, gold and platinum.

It’s a great idea and certainly timely. According to a new study by the Rand Corp., about two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese. By 2030, experts predict, one out of two Americans will be obese. And, the average American eats five meals per week in a restaurant. So it makes good sense that there is now a certification system in place to help us make healthier dining choices.

SPE put together a high-powered committee of scientists and health experts from Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition, Baylor College of Medicine, and the Harvard School of Public Health to “build a better future by bringing together, science, sustainability, and great food,” says Dr. Eisenberg.

In addition to Rouge Tomate, the SPE-certified roster includes top restaurants like Seasonal, in NYC; The Living Room at the Maidstone in East Hampton; La Becasse in Maple City, MI, and more. Wouldn’t you love to see SPE on the spa restaurant menu, too? SPEcertified.com

Brook troute a la plancha from the Rouge Tomate Restaurant in New York City.


Rona Berg

Rona Berg

Editor-In-Chief at Organic Spa Magazine
Editor-in-chief of Organic Spa Media, longtime journalist and best-selling author of Beauty: The New Basics and Fast Beauty: 1000 Quick Fixes (Workman Publishing), Rona Berg is the former Editorial Director of ELLE and Deputy Style Editor for the New York Times Magazine. She has been cited as an industry expert by Huffington Post, Fox News and New York Magazine and contributed to and been quoted in dozens of publications. Berg co-chairs the Personal Care Committee of the non-profit Green Spa Network, is a Charter Advisory Board Member of the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance, and is a frequent speaker at conferences around the globe.
Rona Berg