They say a kitchen is the soul of a home. Some call it the best room in a house. It’s certainly no place for passivity or laziness, only truth and balance and dreams. Kitchens reflect so much about the individuals who pass through them… the unique ways we tick, some needing order, silence, some disorder, noise.
Anthony Bourdain spoke of the kitchen being “an extension of your nervous system.” He spoke of some chefs’ need for a “precisely and carefully laid-out system.”
Kitchens also reflect the way we treat ourselves, each other, and the earth. Michael Pollan brought our attention to how much of the world’s environmental problems can be solved in the kitchen – in our homes and our minds. Solved by us changing the “countless little everyday choices” we make.
The way we source our food and create our meals, and the stories we tell through them, has a lasting impact on not only ourselves, but the health of the earth that sustains us.
At 20 Degres Sud, in Mauritius, Head Chef, Sanjeev Purahoo and his team have prioritised five points to create a more sustainable kitchen and to marry the two great essentials of conservation and cuisine. Take a look below.
Sanjeev’s Sustainable Kitchen
1. I am happy to announce that we are starting a new food garden to cultivate our own vegetables and herbs. We source much of our produce locally and deal with local producers directly. Our fish, vegetables and fruits are all from Mauritius, ensuring freshness, a lower footprint and supporting the island economy.
2. In the kitchen, I focus on natural products and minimise the use of bad oils and sugar wherever possible. I also try to build awareness among the team in the kitchen and hotel to do so too.
3. We always emphasise local food and short-cycle sourcing. For our special menus (like the Slow Food menu presented for Food for Change last year), we give presentations to our guests who want to know more about the messages and motives behind the menus. We also have a page in our menu explaining how the chef created the dish.
Every Sunday we have a buffet at the restaurant, with typical Mauritian meals served to guests right from our chefs.
During our special management cocktail evenings, we also offer Mauritian appetizers and always tell guests who join us about the stories of where the cocktails come from, their place in our traditions as an island. We also use local rhums in our bar and in some of our meals (it actually was the theme menu of March!).
4. We removed straws from our hotel last year, and are not using any plastics (except for the water bottles in the hotel rooms, but we are currently looking for a way to replace them). As you know, we have new picnic boxes which are made in Mauritius by local Mauritian women.
5. I keep learning new things about food and sustainability and find plenty of information through social networks like Instagram – where I follow chefs from around the world, for example Christophe Hardiquest who is a true artisan, he creates his own dishes, using his own products. He made his career out of nothing in Bruxelles, it’s a real inspiration for me.