By Tom Tanner, Sustainable Restaurant Association
Having worked with The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, judging their Sustainable Restaurant Award for almost a decade now, means we’ve seen the engagement with sustainability issues accelerate and deepen across the planet. Receiving submissions from restaurants in territories new to us that demonstrate new levels of commitment and creativity to serving Food Made Good, is one of the very best things about the process. The influence of these pioneering chefs can have a really big impact amongst others in the industry as well as the wider dining public.
This year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants demonstrates this perfectly. Amongst the many good entries for the Sustainable Restaurant Award 2022, there was one absolute standout. Such were its outstanding credentials that other chefs, for the very first time, contacted us to express the case for it to win. To be honest, they didn’t need to; its credentials spoke for themselves.
Without any further delay, let’s spell it out. This year’s winner of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Sustainable Restaurant Award is…MUME in Taiwan.
What immediately strikes you about this largely seafood-based restaurant is the fact that 90% of the ingredients it sources are Taiwanese.
Head Chef Rickie Lin has made that not only central to his and the restaurant’s ethos, but uses it as a key part of its marketing and promotes the local produce and producers to other restaurants and retailers, encouraging them to celebrate Taiwan’s rich ingredients. For a great example, look no further than the summer salad, an assembly of almost 30 different local ferns, herbs and leaves dressed with fermented black beans in grapeseed oil.
When it comes to wild seafood it is often line caught, from local fishermen. This means the menus are flexible to serve what has been caught.
A nose to tail approach is adopted for both meat and fish. For fish, the heads, bones, tails and trimmings are used to make a stock that forms the basis for many of the restaurant’s dishes, with the same approach being taken with meat and vegetable trimmings.
All tea, coffee, sugar, chocolate, rice and soy are sourced from Taiwan. The team visits these producers regularly, giving staff the chance to tour the tea plantations and hosting educational tea tasting events to help promote their suppliers and their sustainable production methods.
The close relationships between the restaurant and its suppliers means they can work together on sustainable farming methods, packaging and delivery practices, minimising waste throughout the supply chain.
The dedication to local sourcing isn’t restricted to food. Richie seeks out other artisan suppliers, including a local ceramicist who made the restaurant’s plates.
A programme sustainability training matched with regular supplier visits and above statutory parental leave, are just some of the benefits of working at MUME that mean its staff retention rate is a very healthy three years.
Using and valuing so much local produce means Richie and his team at MUME are sticklers for keeping waste to an absolute minimum. Very little makes it into the food waste bin, with fruit skins used to make tasty, crispy chips and herb stems used to flavour vinegars for example.
A massive congratulations to Richie and all the staff at MUME for leading the way in Taiwan and Asia – a very deserving winner of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Sustainable Restaurant Award.