Sustainable Kitchen: The Transformation Every Restaurant Needs For The Future
One of the major challenges faced by businesses is the rapid requirement to keep up with the changing tastes and needs of the consumer. In the United Kingdom, almost two million people are living with a food allergy, and one in three Britons are choosing to cut down their meat intake. As businesses adapt, the process can be somewhat daunting, from finding new suppliers to learning how to implement more flexitarian dishes onto the menu. However, help is at hand. We spoke to Julie Cleijne, Founder of Sustainable Kitchen, to learn all about how her company delivers seamless solutions to modernise the menu of any contemporary kitchen.
Hi Julie! How would you summarise Sustainable Kitchen for someone who’s never heard of you before?
We’re a company committed to making dining out more inclusive, for anyone with specific dietary requirements, to those making environmentally conscious lifestyle decisions.
We are passionate about helping to give those customers with dietary requirements or preferences the same freedom of choice and quality dining out experience as those who don’t. By helping hospitality businesses deliver more innovative and interesting food for all.
We help businesses in a number of different ways here at Sustainable Kitchen — Our team of experienced chefs are all specially trained in plant-based and allergen-free cooking, which historically chefs are not trained in. So we’re able to use this specific expertise and share those skills via co-developing more inclusive menus, or by creating bespoke training sessions for kitchen teams. We’re also able to create collaboration between restaurants and our network of sustainable, allergy-aware, plant-based suppliers.
Another uniqueness about our team is that we are also all Nutrition trained, so we add expertise when it comes to developing menus that are on-trend with health conscious diners.
With there needing to be a shift towards more plant-led meals to help combat environmental issues, we forecast that the current trajectory of increase in the number of vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians will continue to grow. We’re committed to helping restaurants ‘future-proof’ their business, giving them the knowledge and skills to create delicious plant-based recipes, that will help them keep up with the changing dining scene.
So where did the idea for Sustainable Kitchen come from?
I’m a passionate foodie, and I’ve always loved dining out. However, I’ve also got a life-long allergy to dairy, and it is so frustrating to me that often dining-out is not so nice an experience, because of minimal menu choice, and unclear communication from waiting staff as to whether certain dishes on the menu are safe to eat. This is one of the reasons I understand the industry demands so well, because I am part of the consumer who wants changes within the restaurant world myself. I think often when it comes to dining with an allergy, an intolerance, or a specific dietary preference, it can feel like you’re being made to feel like you’re being a ‘fussy eater’ or being ‘difficult’, when in actual fact it’s something you can’t control.
So with Sustainable Kitchen my aim is to help create more choice of restaurants and cafes to eat out in, plus more menu choice in them to enjoy.
Prior to setting up Sustainable Kitchen, and before I re-trained as a Nutrition trained chef, I have previously worked as a Management Consultant and project manager. So I’ve transferred a lot of those skills across to the way we operate as a business, and are now combining my diverse skills and experience to build strong collaborative client relationships, and leading teams to deliver projects on time and budget to help better the restaurant scene.
How has your past work experience in business shaped the way you run Sustainable Kitchen?
I definitely approach each client we work with as a unique project, just as I would have done in my previous line of work. I have adopted a consultative approach to new client engagements, starting with a questionnaire designed to tease out the key challenges each business is facing, to then help design a bespoke solution, with the customer at the heart of any proposed changes. It’s always been crucial to me to maintain the unique elements that make each restaurant so distinct, and to work to their strengths in adapting for the future, without losing their uniqueness.
What do you think of the current restaurant industry?
The challenges facing the industry are huge, ranging from environmental and sustainability issues, to Brexit uncertainty, and more. There absolutely needs to be considerable change, and one of those changes needs to be towards better transparency for the consumer. This can be in the case of transparency of ingredients used in dishes, from an allergen perspective, and ensuring there’s been no cross-contamination, or it can be transparency of an ingredient’s provenance, showing how dishes are created, where they have originated from, ensuring they’re sustainable, etc.
I think there are some camps that are thinking that there needs to be a shift towards all restaurants becoming entirely vegan, but I don’t agree. I think the UK’s restaurant industry should focus on being committed to local farmers, and celebrating quality local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients, and local wines and other drinks, and making a conscious reduction in the use of meat and dairy, rather than a total beef blackout. If there is transparency of where food comes from, then restaurants and customers can choose beef and dairy from responsibly farmed sources. Another point is that I think that people often put delicious food and healthy food at opposite ends of a spectrum, when in reality, they’re not mutually exclusive. I want to support the industry in creating delicious food of the future, which puts the needs of the consumer and the planet as one.
Where do you see Sustainable Restaurants going in the future?
I’d love to be able to contribute to the upscaling of the chef work source, helping to provide that awareness of healthy nutrition. It’s not about cutting fats, or carbohydrates, it’s about using good fats, and good carbohydrates. That knowledge is the foundation on which chefs and restaurants can build a crafted, inclusive menu with really exciting dishes.
Thank you for talking to us! Bringing together food and sustainability, keeping the needs of the consumer and the planet in mind, makes Sustainable Kitchen a key business driving the future of the restaurant business. At Forward Fooding, we are passionate in our belief that entrepreneurship can make a difference in solving some of the biggest issues affecting our current food system, and the Sustainable Kitchen represents the future of how businesses, chefs, and suppliers can work collaboratively to drive a positive environmental change.
Talking to Julie, it’s clear she’s passionate about her company, and absolutely recognises the vital importance of orchestrating this positive re-vamp of the current way we interact with restaurants. Pushing sustainability, awareness, and active change is a core principle at the heart of Forward Fooding’s drive.
If you’re a business who thinks you could use the expertise of Sustainable Kitchen, feel free to get in touch with them via their website here! Similarly, if you’d like to join them and be part of a community which powers the FoodTech revolution and strives for a future of sustainability, come and be part of Forward Fooding’s Global FoodTech Map here.
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