Organic, regional and sustainable for maximum enjoyment. How can restaurateurs operate sensibly and incorporate all of these 3 aspects? Germany’s first organic fine dining restaurant, erasmus in Karlsruhe, was founded in 2014. Its success is based on a special method that encompasses everything from the procurement of food and materials to the recycling of the small amount of waste it generates in a nearby biogas facility. Andrea and Marcello Galotti’s concept, which won the 2021 METRO Award for Sustainable Hospitality, comes highly recommended as a model.
Ecology: organic and from nose-to-tail
Organic certificates form the basis for erasmus’s authentic Italian-style cuisine. ‘This is because organic certification guarantees the highest possible statutory environmental protection standards,’ says Marcello Galotti. Accordingly, erasmus has sought out certified producers of vegetables, fruit, meat and fish within the region to simultaneously keep transportation routes as short as possible. Erasmus prefers old breeds and varieties to modern cultivations. Tradition meets trend. Half of the menu is vegetarian, or even vegan on request. ‘We believe that eating meat should be something special.’ When processing the meat, the kitchen follows the nose-to-tail approach, which means using the entire animal. ‘We serve suitable cuts as part of our plated dishes and we use the other cuts of meat to make a Bolognese sauce that we sell in our delicatessen in mason jars, for which we operate a deposit scheme.’ But it’s not only the food at erasmus that’s 100% organic; a large proportion of the work clothing and cleaning materials are too.
Culture: sustainable and authentic
For the Galottis, buying regionally doesn’t just mean procuring products in the immediate vicinity of their business. ‘Our Parmigiano Reggiano is sourced directly from Italy,’ explains Andrea Galotti. The authenticity of the product is vital here. Another consideration is ‘not to restrict guests’ pleasure but to delight them with variety, and also to ensure prosperity in other regions too.’ So if a product represents a region’s culinary identity and is also organically certified, it is served at erasmus tables. ‘These products have unique flavours. When organic is paired with regional authenticity, excellent flavour and added value for society, it gives us the greatest feeling of real product quality.’ To help them operate as sustainably as possible, the restaurateur couple are guided by the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. For this reason, erasmus buys only mature, European fish from wild sources that have usually been caught by hand. Farmed fish are never on the menu here, and gourmets will browse in vain for foie gras and lobster. The kitchen will braise, sous-vide, mince and fill homemade pastries, terrines, stuffings, stocks, sauces and sausages for an authentic Italian experience.
Social: fairness writ large
Clean running water should be freely available to all. Privatising drinking water resources and making access to them more difficult is something the Galottis think is wrong. For this reason, they serve their guests Karlsruhe tap water – still or carbonated - for a voluntary donation. 100% of the money goes to Viva con Agua, an organisation that enables the construction of drinking water wells and sanitation facilities, primarily on the African continent. Another part of social management includes dealing fairly with employees. They are paid at least union wages with overtime paid extra. The team at erasmus draw up the duty roster together.
‘From our point of view, holistic sustainability must combine ecological, social and cultural aspects. This is then ‘organic’ and a great way for us to distinguish our fine dining restaurant,’ says Andrea Galotti. Like her husband, she is a trained chef and catering expert, as well as an agricultural specialist. The Galottis are constantly promoting their concept - with employees, venturers and their guests. ‘Transparency is very important to us. We use all the instruments available to us to achieve this holistic culinary sustainability. Erasmus represents operating rationally for maximum pleasure.’