A Bible to gastronomes around the world, the Michelin Guide added a new star in 2020: the Green Star. To date, 291 restaurants, including 82 in France, have earned this distinction for their efforts to promote sustainable gastronomy.
For Sustainable Gastronomy Day, we spoke with one of its winners, Florent Pietravalle, executive chef at La Mirande in Avignon, France.
The Michelin Guide Green Star award illustrates the transformation of gastronomic cuisine towards a model that combines ecological responsibility and restaurant know-how. According to a representative of the famous guide, their inspectors have noted in the field that sustainable development is becoming a growing concern for restaurateurs and their customers. The Michelin Guide Green Star was created to encourage eco-responsible initiatives by Michelin-starred restaurateurs.
Sustainable gastronomy, a way of life
A Green Star recognizes a restaurant’s commitment to sustainability in its daily operations. The Michelin Guide’s intention, in the organization’s own words, is to reward the collective work of a restaurant’s entire staff, not just its chef. From the balance of menus to the origin of ingredients, waste management or the energy performance of the restaurant, there are many ways to promote a sustainable and environmentally friendly approach in restaurants.
For chef Florent Pietravalle, “sustainable gastronomy is more than a vision, it’s a way of being on a daily basis”. A philosophy that goes first and foremost through “respect for the product” as he puts it. Chef Pietravalle buys from local producers within a 150 km radius, his “playground”. The objective is to have local, fresh and very often organic products to enhance the plate. These arrivals dictate the menu and the day’s menus, including vegetarian offerings to support a less meaty diet.
But the chef’s ecological approach remains within a global vision. He grows his own mushroom crops in his cellar, fed by compost from the restaurant’s organic waste. On the roof, he grows his own aromatic herbs. In addition, he has banned the use of plastic in both the kitchen and the dining room.
Cooking with vegetables is something he has always done, driven by the pleasure of working with each vegetable to create exceptional dishes. For him, the Green Star is “a recognition of the work done”.
A new gastronomy that attracts
To date, 291 restaurants have been awarded a Green Star in 21 countries, with the Michelin Guide aiming to extend this distinction to all 34 countries covered by the guide by the end of 2021. French gastronomy has taken the lead with 82 restaurants selected in France for their sustainable commitment. These restaurateurs are becoming examples for their peers and the rest of society. They show how sustainable practices are within everyone’s reach, starting with the kitchen.
Customers have been coming to the award-winning restaurants despite the waves of COVID-19 restrictions. According to the restaurateurs involved and the Michelin Guide, a new clientele has been attracted to the Green Stars. This younger clientele, sensitive to the issues of sustainable development, choose establishments that share its values
Raising the customer’s awareness is also a fundamental part to the meal. For chef Florent Pietravalle, it is a matter of “making them understand that local products are a richness and a strength”. A message that can be transmitted through his cooking, tastes and flavours, and that can be done at home.
According to chef Florent Pietravalle, to start cooking sustainably at home, you should:
- Look at the origin of what you buy, whether it is fish, meat or fruit and vegetables.
- Favour local producers and short circuits. A supply method that often limits CO2 emissions and packaging.
- Respect the seasons
Crédit photo Gastronomic meal prepared by chef Florent Pietravalle, awarded the Michelin