If you pay attention to the restaurant scene, you’ll know that the Michelin Guide and its star rating system have plenty of critics among those in the hospitality industry. But a new accolade from Michelin is a prize we should all care about, if not for the pleasure of our palates, then for the well-being of our future. The Michelin Green Star was introduced in several regions of the world, including the UK and the Republic of Ireland, and highlights restaurants that are making a particular effort in terms of sustainability, ethical choices and eco-friendly processes from their suppliers to supporting initiatives and charities in their community.
Each restaurant might do this slightly differently, but it shows that even a grande old dame like Michelin is able to move with the times and recognise that we are all responsible for our environment. In the first year, the UK and ROI guide handed out more than 23 Michelin Green Stars, but now there are more than 400 restaurants recognised globally – mostly in Europe, but with a notable few in China and the USA – and some even have the other stars too! Here are our picks for restaurants that are both highly commended and highly ethical in their working practices and their menus.
Based on Single Thread Farm in Healdsburg, north of San Francisco, this restaurant is the brainchild of Kyle and Katina Connaughton, head chef and head farmer respectively. A little bit of Japan in the wine heartland of Sonoma, the couple attribute the inspiration to their time in Japan together, but the sustainability is the product of nothing but dedication and hard work. With three traditional Michelin stars, the cuisine is of the highest standard, but 70% of all the produce used comes from their own organic farm, along with 100% of the olive oil. Further produce is foraged from the surrounding forest, especially flowers which are used to create breathtakingly beautiful culinary creations.
Right in the north-western corner of Slovenia, Hiša Franko tailors its menu to the produce from local suppliers, foragers and artisans. Situated in a remote location, Hiša Franko is surrounded by natural beauty and areas that used traditional farming processes. Cuisine, which is described as creative and regional, uses all the wonderful resources available close by to add a twist to typical regional dishes. What’s more, the local sourcing means they can reduce food waste by using a fixed menu and the rural location means that utilities such as water and electricity can be carefully monitored for maximum efficiency. Slovenia is a very new addition to the Michelin family, but Hiša Franko has already gained two red stars to go alongside this well earned green one.
Amber in Hong Kong is worth a mention because it has a green star on top of its two red ones. Dutch Chef Richard Ekkebus uses mostly sustainable, Fair Trade, organic produce, but the low waste ethos is really what makes the restaurant green: an anaerobic digestion system processes the organic waste and plastic implements in the kitchen have been replaced with plant-based alternatives. Other restaurants in Hong Kong which hold the Michelin green star are Roganic, the creative gastronomic soybean-based Mora and the IFTM Educational Restaurant in Macau.
Two (red) star De Nieuwe Winkel in Nijmegen is a restaurant specialising in botanical gastronomy – a cuisine that focuses on plants. With a mission to have as small as possible an impact upon global warming, De Nieuwe Winkel have used inspiration from around the world and added their own spin to focus on flavour, such as using fermented Dutch barley to create a more sustainable version of miso. This extends to their drinks menu too, where organic beers and wines, as well as slow coffee feature. This is a fully vegan restaurant, with menus based around the seasonal concepts of abundance, awaken, growth and hibernation.
You’ll probably have heard of this one (and if you haven’t, head over to our articles about our stay there and the wonderful dinner we enjoyed in the Oxfordshire countryside). Chef Raymond Blanc (maybe you’ve heard of him too) states that good food and good nutrition requires good ingredients.
Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons makes sure that good ingredients are all that goes into the cuisine by sourcing most of their fruit and vegetables from their own kitchen garden and orchard, and relying upon organic, free-range and artisan producers for the rest. Promoting sustainable food choices through their own ethical and sustainable working practices that focus on seasonal ingredients, this is restaurant that sets the bar very high indeed.