by Salvatore Boemi
Nowadays, gastronomy is living in a new era of sustainability and innovation that offer people a unique experience.
For decades, food quality has been one of the most important factors in customer satisfaction: the new trend is sustainability.
But what does sustainable gastronomy mean?
In its latest 2020 edition of the Michelin Guide France, the Guide established a new emblem of gastronomy, the Michelin Sustainable star, to highlight more than 50 restaurants worldwide with ‘commendable environmental practices’.
The decision to introduce ‘the green star’ in 2020 came after Michelin inspectors, who discovered that more conscious chefs were trying to adopt sustainable practices in their kitchens and as a consequence to give innovation to people that would offer them a unique experience.
The initiative that stood out to the judges was taken by a three Michelin star restaurant in South France, called ‘Mirazur’, where the owner, Mauro Colagreco, has adopted everything from zero-waste product consumption to zero-plastic policies.
‘When we cannot use the product anymore, we put it in the compost for the garden, and give it back to the earth, said Colagreco. Cultivating our organic garden with permaculture is also important for us, to respect nature and to create biodiversity. Respecting nature is respecting our clients—their body and soul.’
The technique adopted by Colagreco called the permaculture gardens has been recreated also by one of the best chefs in the world, Laurent Petit of Les Clos Des Sens.
According to Petit, the owner of a three Michelin stars restaurant in France, a sustainable gastronomy is a ‘cuisine that uses plants, aromatic and fruit gardens which are all managed in line with permaculture philosophy.’
The criteria established to be awarded the new Michelin Sustainable Gastronomy are having the Michelin Plate, a symbol for those restaurants that have neither a star nor a Bib Gourmand and that are extremely highly recommended by the Guide. Bib Gourmand restaurants are deemed both good quality and good value by the Guide with their menu that serves three courses for £28 or under, and 1,2,3 stars Michelin restaurants.
“Faced with constantly evolving challenges including production methods, sourcing and waste management, chefs are striving to improve their practices,” explains Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of MICHELIN Guides.
“The ambition of our approach is to amplify the scope of the good and ingenious practices of chefs by putting them in the spotlight. The ideas, methods and know-how developed by these chefs will thus help raise awareness of an entire sector to its customers and the general population.”
A Glasgow institution, ‘Gamba’, inspired by the ‘Slow Food’ movement and a firm sustainability pioneer, has since 2010 used cheaper fish that are in plentiful supply. The Sri Lankan yellow-tail tuna and the farmed sea bass have been the focus of a new culinary movement in this restaurant. Derek Marshall, chef-owner, explains that the journey to educate customers has not been simple.
He said: ‘ I’m not saying I’m 100% sustainable, I don’t think any fish restaurant could be, but hopefully we’re 99%. Customers’ perceptions of fish are strange. We have the areas where the fish comes from on the menu, so, hopefully, we’re educating people. But you’ll get one customer a week that’ll comment on it. Sometimes I think we’re fighting a losing battle, but we’re not, because we’re doing what we think is right.”