Chef accuses Michelin of "greenwashing" over new sustainability icon

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Chef accuses Michelin of "greenwashing" over new sustainability icon

Related tags: Michelin, Sustainability

Michelin’s new award for restaurants with eco-friendly practices has faced accusations of “greenwashing” by a prominent chef.

Christian F. Puglisi claims the guide awarded its ‘sustainable gastronomy’ emblem to his restaurant Relae in Copenhagen based on little more than a phone call.

The green clover icon debuted in the Michelin Guide France 2020​ and is said to recognise practices such as reducing food waste and non-renewable energy consumption.

But in a blog post​ Puglisi said he was not convinced the guide was properly auditing restaurants to ensure they met these standards.

“It is disrespectful towards the ones in this industry taking the current issues seriously,” he wrote.

“It is hurting the credibility of our restaurant scene to announce leaders to be “setting the standard for the rest of the world to follow”, just by them picking up the phone and saying: ‘Yeah, we are sustainable’."

Industry change

Puglisi admits that Relae is not 100% sustainable but has made efforts to address the issue by using only organic produce and setting up its own farm in 2016. “We do serve meat…we do emit CO2, we do produce waste, we do heat the restaurant in the winter, we do use cling flim (even though we are phasing it out), we do sometimes travel for cooking dinners and demos,” he said.

The chef believes Michelin could use its influence to seriously force restaurants to reconsider their practices, but that the guide needs to take a stronger stance on the issue.

“If the Michelin Guide wants to do something about sustainability then they need to challenge us. They need to make an effort in trying to make us make an effort. We need gastronomy to wake up and put the money where its mouth is.” 

He concluded that the type of fine dining synonymous with the Michelin Guide was in itself counter-intuitive to any sustainability efforts.

"Continuity, standardization, perfection are simply no words that harmonize with reducing waste and sourcing natural and organic produce," Puglisi wrote.

“This excessive manipulation and a wasteful, and in my taste distasteful, approach to cooking is at the very core of the fine dining that Michelin represents."

BigHospitality​ contacted Michelin for comment, but the guide did not respond.

'Raising awareness'

Relae was among 27 Scandinavian restaurants awarded the 'sustainable gastronomy' icon last month, including Amass​ and Noma in Copenhagen. A further 50 restaurants received the accolade in the French guide in January.

Announcing the French selection,​ Michelin said the sustainability efforts of selected restaurants would be profiled on its various online platforms throughout the year.

“The ambition of our approach is to amplify the scope of the good and ingenious practices of chefs by putting them in the spotlight," said Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides.

"The ideas, methods and know-how developed by these chefs will thus help raise awareness of an entire sector to its customers and the general population.”

The green clover icon will appear in all guidebooks going forwards, including the 2021 Great Britain and Ireland selection.

Related topics: Events & Awards

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