One thousand restaurants back One Planet Plate campaign to satisfy diner demand for sustainable food.Written by Laura Haslin
A thousand restaurants will this weekend serve dishes that highlight how they’re addressing the problems in the food system as the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) launches a global campaign to help diners use the power of their appetites wisely.
Chefs including Raymond Blanc, Skye Gyngell and Chantelle Nicholson, as well as high street restaurants like Jamie’s Italian, Carluccio’s, Zizzi and Wahaca are participating in One Planet Plate, launching on Saturday 24 March.
Restaurants as far afield as Virgin Limited Edition’s Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco, Shoun RyuGin in Taiwan, and L’Effervescence in Tokyo, will also be serving a One Planet Plate.
Two surveys conducted on behalf of the SRA, one by restaurant guide Harden’s, the other by National Union of Students, reveal very low levels of satisfaction with the social and environmental impact of the food on offer in UK restaurants.
Just 20% of those asked by Harden’s said they were satisfied with how ethical the food is on the menus of places they’ve eaten in recently, while even fewer, only 17% are satisfied with its impact on the environment. The picture is similar amongst the students surveyed. Fewer than a quarter (24.8%) of students are satisfied with the environmental impact of the food on offer when they eat out, while fewer than one in three (30.4%) believe it’s meeting sufficient ethical standards.
Almost nine out of ten of those questioned by Harden’s (86%) said they thought restaurants should focus on creating a menu that helps them make sustainable choices.
Raymond Blanc OBE, President of the SRA, said: "At Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons we’ve been serving dishes made with vegetables grown in our very own kitchen garden, alongside free-range meat from the same fantastic British suppliers for more than 30 years. It’s so important to help people understand what sustainable food looks, smells and tastes like. By highlighting dishes that capture this ethos One Planet Plate will enhance diners’ experience and help them put their passion for good food into action."
One Planet Plate is a restaurant campaign to put sustainability on the menu – a chance for chefs worldwide to demonstrate to diners in food form how they’re contributing to a better food future.As the consumer survey results demonstrate, faced with a full menu of dishes to choose from, it can be hard for even the most conscious diners to feel confident they’re making the right choice, even in the most ethical restaurant. A One Planet Plate is effectively the chef’s sustainable special – his or her recommendation.
To give the campaign a kickstart, the SRA is launching it to coincide with WWF’s Earth Hour on 24 March – the largest environmental event in the calendar and a perfect moment to grab diners’ attention. This is the fourth year that the SRA has partnered with WWF on Earth Hour and this year more restaurants are participating than ever and giving customers the chance to make positive food choices. Diners can find 1,000 restaurants serving a One Planet Plate on a dynamic map at www.oneplanetplate.org. The site also serves as a treasure trove of 100 recipes for the dishes created and contributed by chefs from high end to high street.
Thomasina Miers, co-founder of Wahaca, which will be serving twice-cooked black beans with sobresada, pledged her support for the campaign saying: “I am delighted that Wahaca is taking up the One Planet Plate challenge with our twice-cooked black beans, one of our most delicious dishes on the menu, seasoned with the amazing sobresada from Trealy Farm. It is incredibly easy to eat sustainable AND delicious food and the One Planet Plate campaign illustrates this beautifully.”
Angela Hartnett whose Café Murano’s One Planet Plate is Spinach Strangolapretti, homemade ricotta, wild garlic, hazelnuts, said: "This is an extremely important campaign and cause, and one I’m so pleased we can be a part of. At Cafe Murano we’re in constant conversation with our suppliers and each other about how we can be more sustainable and less wasteful. Italians are always using up bread and other often-wasted ingredients to make new dishes and so we try and implement this as much as possible."
Among the dozens of recipes shared by chefs are a number that designed to eliminate waste, including prawn head crispies (Moshi Moshi, London), sautéed oyster mushrooms (Harissa, Newcastle, made with mushrooms grown on coffee grounds) and bread soup with vegetable trimmings (Spring, London, using up stale bread). There are a number made with local ingredients including Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons’ home grown beetroot terrine and horseradish sorbet.
Among the dishes rethinking the role of meat on the plate are potted beef (Richard H Turner at Hawksmoor) and pressed pig and walnuts (James Golding at The PIG).
Nicholas Balfe, of Salon, has created the sustainable alternative to smashed avocado – broccomole, while Ottolenghi Head Chef David Bravo is serving up cured Chalkstream rainbow trout with pickled broccoli stems in its Islington restaurant – to highlight sustainable seafood.
Andrew Stephen, Chief Executive of the SRA, said: “Our consumer surveys clearly demonstrate that diners are crying out for some simple signposting to help them. One Planet Plate gives chefs the chance to draw attention to one damned delicious dish that epitomises their ethos, and choosing it is a vote for the food future you want to see.”
The SRA is calling on diners to play their part by snapping a picture of a One Planet Plate when they eat out and sharing it on social media using #oneplanetplate.