Five years after Narisawa in Tokyo won the inaugural Sustainable Restaurant Award at the World’s 50 Best restaurants, its city neighbour L’Effervescence today (27 March) became the first recipient of the same award at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants at the glitzy presentation event in Macau.
Opened in 2010 and ranked No.20 in the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018 list, L’Effervescence puts the emphasis on sustainability both on and off its menu. Chef Namae’s nature-inspired creations take the diner on a journey though Japan’s natural environment, with dishes such as ‘Where the ocean meets the land’ (wood-fired duck with taro and cold milt soup, wilted spinach and spruce oil). All ingredients are organic and sourced from Japan.
Having trained first as a lawyer and then at Michel Bras Toya Japon in Hokkaido and The Fat Duck in Bray, Namae makes use of unconventional cuts from heritage breed animals from small producers and locally caught fish in his modern French cuisine. L’Effervescence shares its passion for provenance with guests, listing all suppliers on the website as well as promoting the importance of “purchasing local and historical products…to let people know the importance of supporting producers and fishermen by consciousness.”
Namae speaks passionately about his signature dish: “Tokyo Turnip cooked for 4 hours. Most of the signature dish nowadays everywhere around might be of protein or carbohydrate with fat, but our combination of elements are completely opposite of conventional idea, and low in carbon footprint in production too. This is being loved by every people from the time we opened the restaurant. Like all the rest of the fresh produce on the menu the turnips are organic and they are grown in Japan.”
The restaurant’s commitment to education about food extends beyond the four walls of the restaurant. For the last six years L’Effervescence has been working with schoolchildren teaching them about the importance of ‘breaking bread’ together. Training the next generation of chefs is also very important to Namae and his team. Sustainability is just one of the main topics they are encouraged to study and younger chefs are also frequently sent out to run a pop-up to gain valuable experience of running a project on their own. A no additive, nor refined product policy is part of a wider drive to serve guests healthy, nutritious dishes according to the following ethos: “We follow the way: Good meat, Less Meat, More vegetables.” Sound familiar?
Waste is a huge global issue, and at L’Effervescence they are taking it very seriously, including the whole team in a range of initiatives to ensure minimal food is wasted. Nose to tail and root to fruit are integral to the creative process, just as techniques like preserving and fermentation. Coffee grounds are sent to a local farmer who uses them to as fertiliser for their vegetables.
Narisawa, with its strict adherence to sustainable seafood only (including no tuna), and reliance on a network of trusted local producers ran L’Effervescence close. It has also introduced a number of innovative measures to keep waste to a minimum. Broken dishes are repaired in-house for re-use in regular service using traditional Japanese bonding techniques and bones from meat are dried, cleaned, and used as silverware in dinner service.
We look forward to judging the Sustainable Restaurant Award for the 2018 World’s 50 Best Restaurant in Bilbao in June and later in the year at Latin America’s 50 Best. Sustainability is unquestionably rising up the agenda in restaurants worldwide and by sharing their positive action the very best chefs are inspiring each other.