To apply for certification a restaurant must complete our questionnaire and submit documentation to verify their responses.
There are many different ways a restaurant can earn points toward certification. The more steps a restaurant takes toward a nutritious, sustainable menu, the higher the score. Stars are awarded as follows with traits of operations at each level.
A 1-star restaurant will:
- Offer a small number of dishes that meet SPE’s criteria for a balanced plate, for example at least 2 dishes on the regular menu and at least 1 dish on the children’s menu, if offered
If not already doing so:
- Commit to phasing out the use of products from animals raised with hormones or non-therapeutic antibiotics within 3 years
- Commit to the use of trans-fat free ingredients within 6 months
Achieve an overall score of 30-50% from our questionnaire. Below are some additional characteristics of a 1-star restaurant:
- Whole grain alternatives
- Vegetarian options and vegetables in many dishes
- Smaller and half portions available for larger plates
- Seasonal specials
- Hormone free milk and sustainable eggs
- Allergen information available for guests
- Identification of healthy options
A 2-star restaurant:
Must meet criteria for 1-star certification and achieve a score of 50-80% from our questionnaire. Below are additional actions that characterize a 2-star restaurant:
- Feature whole grains, legumes and vegetables across menu with an increased number of dishes that meet SPE’s criteria for a balanced plate
- Preference for seafood and poultry over meats
- Use unsaturated oils for cooking
- Minimal deep frying and flame-grilling
- Make stocks, sauces and dressings in house
- More regionally sourced and seasonal ingredients
- Some sustainably grown and raised products
- Increased variety of seafood
- Nutrition information available for guests
A 3-star restaurant:
Must meet criteria for 2-star certification and achieve a score of 80% or more from our questionnaire. Below are additional actions that characterize a 3-star restaurant:
- Vegetables, whole grains and legumes in most dishes, with most dishes meeting SPE’s criteria for a balanced plate
- Avoids deep frying or flame-grilling
- Smaller portions of animal proteins, with grass-fed beef and game meats featured
- Avoids highly processed products with artificial colors, flavors or other ingredients of concern
- Highly seasonal menu from regional purveyors
- Varied and sustainably sourced seafood (farmed and/or wild)
- Pastured, sustainably raised meats and poultry
- Consult with RD for nutrition guidance and staff trainings
If you aren’t currently eligible for certification, we can help you get there!
Ask us about restaurant certification.
Thank you for your submission. Please expect a response from our team within the next few days.
VP, Culinary Nutrition and Sustainability