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Europe’s best eco-chefs incorporating sustainability into fine dining

Europe’s best eco-chefs incorporating sustainability into fine dining

Top chefs are putting sustainability at the heart of their kitchens, championing zero-waste, embracing a circular economy, turning scraps into award-winning meals and throwing as little away as possible. This is Living it’s round-up of our favourite chefs and restaurants pushing the boundaries of sustainable cuisine across Europe.

Eneko Atxa - Azurmendi - Larrabetzu, Basque Country, Spain

Previously named the most sustainable restaurant in the world, three Michelin-star Azurmendi restaurant in Larrabetzu, northern Spain, is led by chef Eneko Atxa. Set in the Basque countryside, Azurmendi is designed with a focus on sustainability, a fundamental pillar of Atxa’s philosophy, which seeks to “use cooking to achieve a more sustainable, healthy, and just society”.

The building, a seamless blend of the area’s natural surroundings and clean, modern architecture, was built with recycled materials and uses eco-friendly solar and geothermal energy production and rainwater recycling. Outside, electric vehicle charging is available, while the building’s upper floor is home to fruit and vegetable gardens as well as a greenhouse with a seed bank. In the kitchen, Atxa uses only small, local producers, incorporating once-endangered local produce into his recipes.

Gaël Orieux - Auguste - Paris, France

Michelin-starred Auguste, on Paris's left bank, opened in 2005 and is led by chef Gaël Orieux. A sustainability pioneer, Orieux is the patron of Mr Goodfish, a European programme campaigning for sustainable fishing and the sustainable consumption of seafood products.

Together, Orieux and Mr Goodfish create recommended-species lists for professional chefs to refer to as they stock their kitchens, encouraging the move away from overfished species such as sea bass, turbot, lobster or sole, and encouraging the exploration of new and more plentiful alternatives. Despite Orieux’s commitment to sustainable fishing however, Auguste isn’t just a fish restaurant, serving a wide-ranging menu that changes with the seasons.

Doug McMaster - Cub - London, UK

Based in Hoxton, east London, Cub was set up by award-winning bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana, the man behind waste-free cocktails, and Doug McMaster, the chef proprietor of Britain’s first no-waste restaurant, Silo.

Cub offers ever-changing, no-choice menus – diners simply choose between omnivore, vegan or vegetarian, alcoholic or nonalcoholic – and rest assured all the food comes from sustainable sources. The space itself also boasts top eco-friendly credentials, having been created with breathable clay that filters the air and table tops made from recycled yoghurt pots.

Daniel Finke - Katz Orange - Berlin, Germany

Incorporating sustainable gastronomy into its core offering, Berlin-based Katz Orange serves a mix of vegan and organic meat dishes.

© Katja Hiendlmayer / Katz Orange
The modern and rustic interior of Katz Orange© Katja Hiendlmayer / Katz Orange

Led by chef Daniel Finke, the menu is composed of locally-sourced and seasonal produce and the restaurant is part of the Contemporary Food Lab, a food and hospitality incubator dedicated to combining “gastronomic know-how with cultural programming and place making” and putting on supper clubs and community-driven events.

Christian Puglisi and Jonathan Tam - Relae - Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen-based Relae was started by chef proprietor Christian Puglisi and is now led by head chef Jonathan Tam. Specialising in deceptively simple fine dining, the restaurant produces an annual sustainability report detailing its eco-friendly initiatives including details on food sourcing, environmentally-friendly practices such as water saving techniques, supply chain details, waste management efforts and energy resources, as well as its socially-conscious efforts including responsible marketing and community engagement. Some 90 - 100% of its produce is certified organic.

Bertrand Grébaut - Septime - Paris, France

Paris-based Septime, led by chef-owner Bertrand Grébaut continually tops the charts of sustainable dining excellence.

The restaurant focuses on vegetable dishes, sourcing 99% of its products locally and investing in urban farmers and even a small farm near Paris’s city centre. It also saves seeds as part of a project called Conservatoire du Goût and works with a private recycling contractor who helps them measure and monitor waste.

When chef Grébaut does serve meat (never beef, due to its high environmental impact), he buys seasonally and serves the entire animal. Chicken is all free-range and slaughtered after 180 days, while pork is sourced from three local farms.

All seafood is sustainably and consciously sourced, wine is all-natural and water is served in recycled glass bottles. All staff and food producers are paid fair living wages, gender parity among restaurant workers is 50-50 and the restaurant actively participates in Mangeons Local, a movement to support local agriculture and the local economy.

Words: Claire Lancaster