Long known for its delicious seasonal menus, Basil’s new chef/owner Soerke Peters is kicking it up a notch and aiming to become the first green-certified restaurant in Carmel village. But Peters isn’t going green just because it’s trendy. He was living the local, sustainable lifestyle in his native Germany long before it was fashionable. “I was twelve years old before I ever saw the inside of a supermarket,” he laughs, explaining that his family—particularly his grandmother— made everything from scratch. As a child, he remembers riding his bicycle to the dairy to pick up milk in the morning, then going to the local bakery to pick up bread. “This is coming full circle for me,” he says.
According to Peters, the restaurant’s name will not change. What will? Diners can look forward to dishes like local abalone with truffle beurre blanc and fingerling potato salad with mustard-dill dressing, topped with ahi tuna. Produce will be sourced locally from Swank Farms and through Golden Rule Produce. Grass-fed beef raised on family-owned ranches will come from Paso Prime, where Peters is chef-consultant. He will also add more organic and biodynamic wines to a list that already includes Morgan’s Double L sustainably produced wines and Heller’s organic wines. He also wants to add more local wines to the list, including those of neighboring tasting room Manzoni and Bernardus’ popular Sauvignon Blanc. All spirits sold at Basil will be American in the near future.
Charcuterie for the restaurant is made to order in a USDA-approved facility in Los Angeles. He does a lot of research and development there and sells his products to other chefs as well. One of his favorites, a dry-aged pancetta, was an accident. He said that he got busy with restaurant work and forgot about a big piece of pancetta (Italian bacon that is not smoked) in the dry-age room. It hung there for three weeks, and when the manager called him to pick it up, he recalls it looked less than appetizing. He cut into it just to see how it tasted and it was great. He’s also planning on making salmon sausage with dill and tarragon, as well as bresaola—an air-dried, cured beef product.
Everything in the restaurant will be eco-friendly, down to the light bulbs and compostable take-out containers. He has switched over to green cleaning solutions for the restaurant, working with Eco Carmel to obtain environmentally friendly products. He is looking forward to certification by the Green Restaurant Association, whose requirements include water efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable furnishings, building materials and food, energy efficiency, limited use of disposable products, and chemical and pollution reduction.
Peters’ enthusiasm and energy are contagious. He has been cooking in restaurants from Germany to Moscow to New York and Los Angeles since the late 1980’s. He is happy to be in Carmel fulfilling his dream of “running a small restaurant doing business with local people”, and looking forward to good things yet to come.
Elaine Hesser grew up in rural Pennsylvania and started cooking at age 6. By age 9, she’d made her first dinner and at midlife, is amazed when high school graduates can’t scramble eggs. After the U.S. Army paid for her B.A., it also moved her to Monterey County, where she served on active duty at Ft. Ord and Ft. Hunter Liggett. She has a wide variety of interests, but is most passionate about faith, writing, and food – and encourages everyone never to stop learning and looking for truth.