Press Release

Stephanie Stone (415) 379-5121
Helen Taylor (415) 379-5128


The Academy Café and The Moss Room will open September 27, 2008 with emphasis on
local, organic menu of multicultural offerings for guests of all ages

SAN FRANCISCO (May 30, 2008) --- When the new California Academy of Sciences opens in San Francisco on September 27, 2008, it will push the boundaries of the traditional museum exhibit. To tell stories about the history and future of life on Earth, the Academy will rely not only on traditional displays and exhibit text, but also on thousands of live animals, opportunities to meet practicing scientists, revolutionary green architecture, and an integrated approach to its café and restaurant. The casual Academy Café and the full service Moss Room will be treated like exhibits, encouraging visitors to ponder the vital relationship between food and culture and to consider the benefits of eating sustainably. Both menus will highlight local, seasonal, organic produce; sustainable seafood that adheres to the Academy’s Seafood Watch standards; and locally-sourced, hormone-free meats. Additionally, featured menu offerings will be created to complement temporary exhibits and special programming elsewhere in the museum.

Renowned chefs Loretta Keller and Charles Phan will partner on the innovative new café and restaurant. The two San Francisco-based chefs were inspired to work together for a simple reason: “Charles was always craving my food, and I was always craving his,” says Keller. “We were constantly eating in each other’s restaurants, and we realized that we share the same approach to food—it’s all about soul and story.” When they heard about the opportunity to create a café and restaurant for the new California Academy of Sciences, they were excited by the possibility to share this approach with a wider audience. “It’s an amazing opportunity to reach people from all over the world, and to change the way people eat” says Phan. “Sustainable, organic food is a must today, especially in a museum like the Academy. But we also want to preserve culture. We want to create an educational experience in which the food has a story.”

The Academy Café will offer healthy, kid-friendly, multicultural food that reflects many of the cultural influences in the Bay Area. It will offer a wide variety of dishes that feature fresh, local ingredients, showcasing the fruits of California’s rich farmland for the Academy’s international visitors. While the menu will change frequently, the soups might include such offerings as tortilla soup with fresh tomato and avocado, winter squash soup with toasted pumpkin seeds, and Hanoi beef noodle soup. Additional offerings will include sandwiches and paninis, slow-cooked stews and porridges, spring rolls and salads, steamed buns and vegetables, pastas, tacos, and “from the garden” selections. Several favorites from Phan’s Slanted Door restaurant will appear on the menu, including the grapefruit and jicama salad, chicken claypot, and steamed pork buns. A few of Keller’s most popular dishes from COCO5OO will also make appearances, including beef cheek mole tacos and fresh ricotta ravioli. Rather than creating a designated “kids menu,” the chefs have incorporated items with wide appeal into the standard menu, including their takes on chicken noodle soup, spaghettini and meatballs, and macaroni and cheese.

The Moss Room will be open for lunch daily and dinner Wednesday through Sunday, serving dishes inspired by the bounty of the Bay Area in an elegant setting. The room takes its name from a large wall with living moss that will rise from an aquarium tank filled with Southeast Asian river fishes. The moss will draw nutrients from the fish, while cleaning and recycling the water in the tank below. The Moss Room menu will change weekly and will feature house-made pates and terrines, salads of local organic lettuces and produce, house-made pastas, earthenware-baked dishes, and other house specialties. In keeping with the kitchen offerings, the beverage program will feature small-production, organic, bio-dynamic wines and spirits.

In addition to The Academy Café and The Moss Room, Keller and Phan are also creating three portable food carts that will offer quick fare in the gardens on either side of the museum and inside the central piazza. Cart offerings will include steamed buns, homemade hotdogs, tacos, organic milkshakes, and cappuccinos.

Sustainable practices in the café and restaurant will extend beyond sourcing local, sustainable ingredients. Unnecessary packaging and materials will be avoided. Water and energy efficient foodservice appliances will be installed. Both venues will use washable, rather than disposable, dishware and utensils. Menus will contain information about the benefits of supporting local, organic farms. Café patrons will be encouraged to compost any leftover food, and educational signage will be posted about the benefits of composting. Take-out containers and utensils will be compostable. Non-toxic cleaning products will be used, and all café and restaurant employees will receive ongoing training about waste reduction and sustainability practices.

About Loretta Keller
Loretta Keller is the Chef/Owner of COCO5OO, located in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood. Keller originally opened Bizou in 1993, and redesigned the space and menu in 2005 as COCO5OO. She is one of San Francisco’s preeminent female chefs. She began her San Francisco career at Jeremiah Towers’ revolutionary Stars. Keller has long been known for sourcing local, organic ingredients for her soulful and beautifully executed Mediterranean dishes. COCO5OO is on the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Top 100” restaurants in 2007.

About Charles Phan
Charles Phan is the Chef/Owner of The Slanted Door restaurant in San Francisco’s Ferry Building, as well as Out the Door with locations at the Ferry Building and Westfield Centre. Phan is renowned for bringing modern Vietnamese food with an organic California filter to the U.S. He opened his first restaurant in San Francisco in 1995 and has been a pioneer in forging sustainable and ecologically aware practices in his restaurants. The Slanted Door is on the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Top 100” restaurants in 2007 and is currently one of five nominees for this year’s James Beard Award for Best Restaurant in the Country. Phan was awarded the prestigious James Beard Award for Best Chef California in 2004.