Mayfair restaurant Quaglino's overhauls menu in sustainability drive

Ella Wills

A leading central London restaurant has overhauled its food and drinks menus ahead of its 90th anniversary in a bid to enter its next decade sustainably.

The executive head chef behind Quaglino's in Mayfair has told how the restaurant has taken steps to remove unsustainable products from its business model.

This includes using surplus food, removing unethical items such as foie gras from the menu, cutting plastic waste and transforming the kitchen to reduce the restaurant's carbon footprint.

Nuno Goncalves told the Standard the team was moved to introduce the new initiatives to be in line with climate change concerns.

Quaglino's executive head chef Nuno Goncalves

"We wanted to pave the way for other restaurants to do this, to be at the forefront of that," he said.

"We are taking all the steps possible to reduce unethical and unsustainable products from our menu, and to keep our menu as local as possible."

The restaurant now uses London suppliers for all the fresh herbs used in its dishes, Mr Goncalves explained. These are grown in Vauxhall-based urban gardens and delivered by bike.

The team also accepts surplus food and "wonky" vegetables from suppliers in an effort to minimise food waste.

Line caught Cornish mackerel, Devon crab, avocado cream, pink grapefruit and cucumber

Meanwhile chefs have worked with the restaurant's mixologists to create cocktails using surplus food prep. "It's about trying to reuse food products to create something else," Mr Goncalves said.

Bunches of mint are a regular feature on a bar at any restaurant, however it is usually only the leaves that are used, with the stems discarded.

At Quaglino's, the stems are blended with olive oil to make "mint stick oil", which adds an extra freshness and scene to cocktails.

This is included in Blossom, the restaurant's waste-free drink, which claims to be "the world's most sustainable cocktail".

Mr Goncalves added: "We have also removed foie gras from the menu because the way it has been produced is unethical. No-one has asked for it since the change."

In the kitchen, a fuel-efficient grill has been installed, which uses less energy and cuts the restaurant's carbon footprint by 40 per cent.

The moves mark a growing shift among businesses to reduce their environmental footprint.

Earlier this month Spring, which is based at Somerset House in Aldwych, announced it has committed to running its business without single-use plastics.

The restaurant has stopped using cling film and plastic straws. It has also asked its suppliers to deliver food in reusable packaging, the BBC reports.

Inside Quaglino's in Mayfair

Quaglino's has also eliminated plastic straws from its restaurant. As for food packaging, the chef said the restaurant's waste is "minimal" thanks to the amount of wrapping used when buying in bulk over the supermarket.

However he has called for chefs to encourage suppliers to reduce their use of single-use plastics.

"We need to create awareness and then it has to be the suppliers who take that step," he said.

Mr Goncalves also believes there is more work to be done among restaurants and suppliers to champion sustainable produce.

"I think it crosses chefs' minds, but there's a certain cost, such as alienating customers who are not interested," he said.

In fact, Mr Gonvalves said the initiatives have helped to attract new customers to the restaurant.

He added that he has hosted sustainable supper clubs and created tasting menus using waste produce in an effort to educate customers on the changes, which "have had great feedback".

Looking ahead, Mr Goncalves said his main focus is on finding a sustainable supply of meat and fish.

While Quaglino's recently adopted more vegan and vegetarian options onto its menu "to appeal to the customers of today", the chef said the restaurant still wants to maintain its classic dishes.

"We don't want to drive away certain customers, but we want to find a sustainable way to supply customers with that produce," he said.

"It's about collaborating with suppliers to get free range and organic products in a cost effective way."