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Green Gastronomy Meet Michelin’s new sustainable star

The Michelin Green Star is a prestigious new accolade for planet-conscious cooking. Here, we unearth what it takes to achieve this ultimate award for sustainability and meet some of the restaurants that are proudly offering both gastronomic and environmental excellence.

You may have heard of the Michelin star, but how about its sustainable sister? Unveiled by the Michelin Guide in 2020, the Green Star is a new annual award that recognises exceptional restaurants that are operating in a truly sustainable manner; those combining culinary excellence with outstanding environmental efforts. In the 2021 edition of the Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland, just 23 restaurants received this new eco accolade.

“Many chefs have been creating their cuisine to the rhythm of nature and the planet’s resources for years. By giving credit to some of the most committed ones, we hope to shape a positive and progressive momentum,” explains Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the Michelin Guide.

Restaurants can only qualify for this new, green-clover-leaf symbol if they have already been recognised by Michelin in some way, either in the form of a Star, Bib Gourmand or Plate, and there is absolutely no room for greenwashing; Michelin’s rigorous inspectors are looking for those who are at the very top of their game when it comes to operating in a sustainable way.

“I feel that restaurants and guides have a responsibility to lead by example… and the Green Star does exactly that. Michelin have taken the first step, and we couldn’t be prouder to be one of the first restaurants awarded .”

“Gourmets and foodies have become more challenging of their ways of consuming, trying to leverage the environmental impact of their actions and choices. We want to demonstrate that both gastronomic and eco-friendly excellence can go hand in hand,” says Gwendal.

On Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula, New Yard Restaurant is housed in a converted stable building on the Trelowarren Estate. It offers a leisurely seven-course set menu that is guided by the seasons and created using ingredients that have either been foraged on the estate, grown in the walled garden or ethically sourced from the local area. It is a ‘no option’ menu, which keeps wastage, staff labour and fuel to a minimum. Produce is grown using regenerative agricultural methods, such as ‘no dig’ gardening and using animals to keep the soil healthy. Sometimes, the menu isn’t finalised until the same day, when local fisherman, John, knows how many covers are booked and delivers whatever he thinks is best.

New Yard Restaurant. Cured monkfish, curry oil, yoghurt, grape and almond. Lead image Inver in Strachur.

“Putting our menu design in the hands of our local suppliers means that we use what’s abundant rather than creating extra demand for what isn’t,” explains New Yard’s co-owner and executive chef, Jeffrey Robinson.

“I feel that restaurants and guides have a responsibility to lead by example with how the food system is used, and the Green Star does exactly that. Michelin have taken the first step, and we couldn’t be prouder to be one of the first restaurants awarded.”

Wales’ only Green Star was awarded to historic country house hotel Palé Hall in the tranquil Dee valley. Its luxurious, fine-dining restaurant grows its own organic produce using its own compost, team uniforms are made from recycled plastic, and there’s a hydroelectric plant on-site, which provides renewable energy. Scotland is also home to one Green Star; Inver in Strachur. Set in an isolated former crofter’s cottage and boat store on the shore of Loch Fyne, this beautiful restaurant has stunning views out across the water, and luxurious, eco-friendly, bothy-style bedrooms. Here, chef owner Pamela Brunton uses local, wild and foraged ingredients to create her outstanding modern menus.

“Sustainability is the ground on which we build our business; it’s much more than just a ‘subject’ to us,” she explains. “The people, landscape, plants and animals that guide and shape our menus are an ecosystem, in which we are one evolving part. If they don’t thrive, neither can we.” Elsewhere in the countryside, there’s another Green Star at Daylesford Organic Farm in Gloucestershire, which has promoted sustainable farming for over 40 years. Attached to a farm shop is a stylish restaurant that houses a wood-fired oven, a botanical cocktail bar and a carefully curated menu of mostly organic food. In Axminster, the focus at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s rustic River Cottage Kitchen is also on seasonal, organic produce, with a menu of flavour-filled, plant-based dishes made using ingredients from its nearby farm. Staff are also treated in a sustainable manner here; working hours are fair, good food is provided, and 100% of tips are shared. In the kitchen, as much single-use plastic has been eliminated as possible, cling film is nowhere to be seen, and milk is delivered in metal churns.

Dover sole with mussels and coastal vegetables at Petersham Nurseries

These ethical and environmental efforts are not reserved for rural restaurants alone, oh no. Just off Eyre Square in Galway city, Loam is the recipient of both a Michelin Star for its exceptional and ambitious cooking, and a Green Star for its rigorously eco-friendly approach. The seasonally driven menu is a masterclass in modern cooking and changes daily, depending on the availability of local produce.

Chef–owner Enda McEvoy goes above and beyond to ensure sustainability; local potters provide tableware, and local horticulturists grow wildflowers for the tables, thus supporting the local economy. Vegetables and meat are sourced directly from farmers, game from hunters, and seafood and fish from local fishers. In the kitchen, fermenting and salting techniques are used to prevent waste, as is a composting system. Electricity comes from renewable sources, water usage is closely monitored, and induction is used for cooking, as it uses less energy.

Using regenerative methods in New Yard Restaurant’s Walled Garden to grow fruit, vegetables and flowers as well as rear two Kunekune pigs and fourteen chickens.

“Urban environments are where transformative action must take place, because by 2050 two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in urban areas. That’s a lot of food, water, waste and energy needed, so cities have a pivotal opportunity to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement (the international treaty on climate change),” says Enda. “Recognising efforts in the industry and the pivotal role that hospitality can play is hugely important. It encourages learning between restaurants and normalises sustainability efforts, rather than it being seen as a fringe movement.” In Hackney, East London, Silo is the world’s first zero-waste restaurant; the menu is mainly plant-based and everything, from the stylish furniture to the cool crockery, is made with recycled materials. Elsewhere in the capital, the picturesque Petersham Nurseries Café in Richmond has also received a Green Star, having championed sustainable practices for over 20 years. Alongside the delicious food, waste management is just as important; an advanced aerobic food digester uses oxygen, microorganisms and warm water to turn plate waste into a liquid that can then be poured away, eliminating the need for any vehicular transportation. Menus here stick firmly to seasonal vegetables and fruits, with as few food miles generated as possible. Seven on-site beehives offer honey, while the owner’s family farm provides many of the organic ingredients used to create head chef Ambra Papa’s Italian-style dishes, which are served in a stunning bougainvillea- and jasmine-filled glasshouse.

“Silo is the world’s first zero-waste restaurant… and everything, from the stylish furniture to the cool crockery, is made with recycled materials.”

“Consumers are becoming far more demanding when it comes to knowing where their food comes from, and that’s a good thing,” enthuses Ambra.

“I hope that the Green Star will highlight the fact that you can be green and successful at the same time. Quite often, it’s not the easiest and certainly not the cheapest way of operating, but it is the right way to run a business.”

So, next time you’re (Michelin) star spotting, why not look out for a green one?

Green Stars in Full

England

Angela’s, Margate

Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Great Milton

Black Swan, Oldstead

Coombeshead Farm, Lewannick

Daylesford Organic Farm, Daylesford, Hypha, Chester

L’Enclume, Cartmel

New Yard, Trelowarren

Oxo Tower Brasserie, Southwark, London

Petersham Nurseries Café, Richmond, London

Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham

River Cottage Kitchen, Axminster

Silo, Hackney, London

The Dining Room, Whatley Manor, Malmesbury

The Ethicurean, Wrington

The Small Holding, Kilndown

Tredwells, Strand and Covent Garden, London

Where the Light Gets In, Stockport

Scotland

Inver, Strachur

Wales

Henry Robertson Dining Room, Palé Hall, Llandderfel

Republic of Ireland

Inis Meáin Restaurant and Suites, Inishmaan, Aran Islands

Kai, Galway

Loam, Galway

Words | Sophie Farrah

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