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Jessica Waite, a vegan since childhood, is the owner and co-founder of The Plot, a plant-based, zero-waste restaurant in Oceanside. Photo by Chase Life Photography
ColumnsSoul on Fire

Jessica Waite: Our Lady of Perpetual Sustainability

One can’t think about collaborative, sustainable practices in the local food scene and not think of Jessica Waite and her husband, Davin, leading the charge.

I interviewed Jessica, a soft-spoken partner, catalyst and co-founder of the fabulously popular Wrench and Rodent and The Plot restaurants.

Jessica tends to give most of the credit to her other half, Davin. Trained by master Japanese chefs, the wickedly talented and creative food alchemist has been trail-blazing with zero waste in the kitchens around town.

And it’s no secret this alliance has created some powerful magic that benefits not only the patrons of their restaurants but the community.

The chef and the CEO (who has an MBA from Pepperdine and a pre-med background) are quite the power couple, which is why there is exponential growth in sustainability in the restaurant industry. 

I watched this dynamic duo set up shop in a nondescript, hole-in-the-wall on Coast Highway, like a speakeasy with a crazy name but no sign.

Scrappy and avant-garde, the two could clear obstacles that would keep most people from even starting such an endeavor with their sheer determination and naïveté.

The food scene in Oceanside was dawning, but they had a loyal following from the Fish Joint, and word of mouth spread fast.

Jessica and her husband, Davin Waite, also opened Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub. Photo by Chase Life Photography
Jessica Waite and her husband Davin also opened Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub. Photo by Chase Life Photography

By not having the resources readily available except to procure the highest quality fish, Jessica had to innovate while running the business side. They decorated in what could only be described as raw art deco with a bit of Southern California surf grunge. Super cool.

Ambiance and music aside, the food was always fabulous and fresh and is like a moving art show if you could get a spot at the sushi bar to behold the master.

“Omakase” was a code word for customers to let Davin do what he wants — surrender their tastebuds, and prepare to have their minds blown.

Checks were brought to tables in CD holders in a shared space with Bull Taco and a surfboard gallery. Those were the early days that built the empire and dream, wagering on the couple’s shared vision, one day at a time. 

With slim start-up money, the no-waste, farm-to-table, local regenerative movement was born out of necessity at the kitchen porch of Wrench and Rodent.

Local farmers and fishermen brought their finest to support this new endeavor that was helping put Oceanside on the map for its culinary inventiveness.

The Plot is a plant-based, zero-waste, purpose-driven restaurant owned by Jessica and Davin Waite. Photo by Israel Palacio
The Plot is a plant-based, zero-waste, purpose-driven restaurant owned by Jessica and Davin Waite. Photo by Israel Palacio

In turn, the Waites began volunteering at local charitable events, collaborated with other chefs at farm dinners, and attended non-profit gatherings that advocate healthy eating and gardening projects at the local schools to educate and promote the health benefits of plant-based eating.

This reciprocity brought on a food movement in town that has gained the attention of critics and culinary innovators far and wide.

These spiritually rooted mavericks started the advancement of this consciousness by giving access to their passion and grateful hearts toward their mission to change the perception of eating for health.

Jessica summarizes the activism with this statement: “Sustainability is deeply rooted in respect. Let’s be part of nature. Let’s take from nature; let’s give back to nature. Regenerative is just reciprocity. Let’s live in a community with nature. Because we are nature, and we are not separate. So why not integrate more respectfully?”

Sharing the philosophy of renewable practices was bred into Jessica growing up in Washington.

A vegan since childhood, she was raised to love and respect the planet and all creation. A non-waste mentality was the precursor to the habits that built this movement with the Honorable Harvest philosophy.

If a fish is to be used for a dish, the entire fish would be gratefully used — zero waste — in honor of the fish giving its life.

A longing to ease suffering and the imbalance between consumerism and animal consumption, the two collaborated on their next project, which was near and dear to her heart.

The Plot, a plant-based, zero-waste, purpose-driven restaurant, was born a block away from the Wrench.

A non-waste mentality went hand in hand with composting, gardening, and recycling done on-site as a grassroots effort.

“We have created a synergy by combining skills that we hope will inspire and spread out and be duplicated by others, and we end up thriving as a result,” Jessica said.

CalTravel recently selected Chef Davin for the 2022 Sustainable Advocate Award. The Plot was awarded the 2022 Outstanding Waste Retention Award from the California Resouce Recovery Association and Best New Restaurant by San Diego Magazine.

Bran Moon, graphic designer and owner of Black Moon Design, came up with the idea to take a gyotaku fish print created by artist Dwight Hwang, enlarge it and paste it to one of the walls in Oceanside’s Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub.
A look inside Oceanside’s Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub. Photo by Samantha Nelson

What’s next? Baby Plots are on the horizon using a hub-and-spoke model, starting with the 2,000-square-foot commissary lab kitchen in South Oceanside to several Plot Express locations coming soon (Look out, Carlsbad Village). Follow on Instagram to find out what’s cooking @theplotrestaurant or @wrenchandrodent.

Better yet, stop in.

“Plant-based eating is not just for vegans or vegetarians,” Jessica said. “Most people can benefit from a plant-based diet or adding more to their palate, and it’s so good for the body. Food is medicine.

“We believe that every time someone has a meal, they should experience something that spurs conversations, builds community, supports and uplifts the local farmers and economy, creates sustainability, and sets their soul on fire.

“We feel responsible for passing this experience and knowledge on and are grateful for the privilege to be a part of this important global food revolution.”