Embracing Sustainability in Fine Dining

The pandemic has halted the entire world, influencing various aspects of our lives. In the post-pandemic years, we are paying more and more attention to finding balance. The work-home schedule no longer makes sense for many of us. We desire more, but in a positive way, pay attention to the fact that work gives us wings and life brings us happiness. We recognize that our actions have a real impact on the environment. The guiding word for a range of balancing efforts is: sustainability.

But how does it relate to the world of fine dining?

In an interview with The New York Times, chef René Redzepi proclaimed that the modern fine dining model is “unsustainable… financially and emotionally, as an employer and a human being, it just doesn’t work.” He declared, “We have to rethink the industry completely. This is simply too hard, and we must work differently.” Many chefs disagreed with the statement, sparking controversy and providing examples of their restaurants’ sustainable practices – from the menu and employees to the environment – while paying special attention to guests.

photo: Instagram @lerchners.runggen.restaurant

Surprising Impact: Small Changes for a Balanced Menu

In her article ‘How Sustainable Is Your Menu,’ Elly Earls points out that reducing meat by 25% can have a much greater impact on sustainability than simply introducing a few more vegetarian alternatives. By adopting this perspective and implementing incremental adjustments, restaurants can make significant progress toward their sustainability goals while improving their bottom line. Focusing on environmentally friendly practices and ingredients involves more than just including green options on the menu; it requires taking thoughtful actions. This includes creating a menu based on local products and partnering with suppliers who equally respect the standards and regulations of sustainable development. Such a way of managing the restaurant will not only streamline processes but also have a positive impact on the environment.

photo: Instagram @restaurant_geranium

Beyond the Menu: Sustainability and the Whole Picture

The second aspect is creating a sustainable working environment, which involves reducing the number of working days and hours to provide employees with maximum comfort and ensure productivity. This not only affects the comfort of work but also has an influence on the price of a meal. In April 2023, chef Rasmus Koefed transformed the operating system at Geranium by raising the price of the restaurant menu to 510 euros. As a result, the working week was reduced to three days. 
Of course, as we rightly point out in the post, the increase in price has the effect of being less inclusive. However, this is not just about money but about fundamental issues such as respect for work, mental and physical health. If during these three days we can feel the crew mobilized, focused, with a positive vibe, guiding us through the service without pressure and with the right pinch of care, it will still be a priceless experience.

photo: Instagram @restaurant_geranium

Holistic Approach: Sustainability for the Whole Society

Remember that sustainability requires a continuous journey, and even small changes can significantly impact the environment over time. Tailor your sustainable menu according to your specific context and resources, and explore innovative ways to reduce your ecological footprint. Restaurant owners often find it surprising that the modifications they initially expected to have the greatest impact on achieving a balanced menu do not always hold true.

Sustainability encompasses more than just a menu, inventory, or staff. Dinners form the next link in this chain. The infinity sign could symbolize a sustainable business model. By offering a menu based on locally sourced ingredients, prepared by motivated employees, we provide our guests with extraordinary experiences. The holistic approach focuses on the entire society rather than just yourself, your business, or your guests. It’s crucial to understand that we, as the driving force, can bring benefits to ourselves, society, and the environment by basing our businesses on sustainability.


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