How to be more sustainable in the kitchen

In honour of World Environment Day, Como Hotels and Resorts look at ways to be more sustainable in the kitchen.

Consumerism not only has a negative impact on our wallets but more seriously on the environment. As the demand for goods increases, the requirement to produce these goods also increases.

This leads to more pollutant emissions, increased land use and deforestation, and accelerated climate change. Beyond its moral responsibility, sustainable sourcing also benefits the quality of the dishes you create. “It’s basic,” says Head Chef Felipe Ardila at COMO Metropolitan Bangkok, “the closer you source ingredients from, the fresher and tastier they are”.

If you’re looking for ways to be more sustainable in the kitchen, read on. Como have asked their chefs around the world to share how they’ve been sourcing, cooking and storing with the environment front of mind.

We know there’s always room for improvement – something we’re continually educating ourselves on – but we are committed to growing a sustainable business for generations to come.

Shop local ingredients, from local businesses

Where possible, buy from local businesses, like butchers, vegetable shops and fish markets. Try to also choose ingredients that are produced locally. This reduces the miles on your food, supports your local community and economy, and can be healthier too, as locally-grown produce tends to be fresher, with less chemicals used.

At COMO The Treasury, for instance, most of the seafood comes from Western Australian waters, with menus planned around what is easily found such as Fremantle octopi and Shark Bay crabs.

Likewise, COMO Metropolitan Bangkok only sources fruit and vegetables from farms that guarantee chemical-free growth. The team in Thailand is also in the process of removing all single-use plastics from the kitchen.

Plan meals around maximising what you have, extend the life of ingredients and buy sundry items in bulk.

Portion out how you will use everything you buy and keep track of what’s already in the fridge. Purchasing a home vacuum-sealer also helps to properly protect stored ingredients from contaminants and oxidising, keeping them fresh for longer.

As for items with longer shelf-lives, buying them in bulk reduces the amount of travel for both you and your food, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint.

COMO menus are always created with the local environment, community and cuisine and mind. COMO restaurants do not use any endangered species such as Bluefin tuna, and ingredients are purchased with specific thought for its use and storage. Food wastage is kept to a minimum this way, as each item’s use is fully maximised.

Repurpose meat off-cuts and vegetable scraps.

These can be used to make stock that can then be frozen and used at a later date – perfect for cobbling together a quick soup. You can even regrow vegetables from their root: keep one inch of a white spring onion stem in a jar on a windowsill. Submerge half of it in water. Change the water every few days and cut off what you need as it grows back.

At COMO Uma Bhutan and COMO Castello Del Nero, the resorts take full advantage of their abundant agricultural resources to grow many of their own ingredients organically, on property.

The culinary team at COMO Uma Paro and Punakha grow mushrooms, herbs, and vegetables, and raise chickens among the Bhutanese mountains. In Italy, Executive Chef Giovanni Luca Di Pirro personally tends to his garden which produces honey, wine and olive oil. For what cannot be home-grown, the chefs at these properties also maintain strong ties with choice local suppliers and farms.”

Where possible, we try and work head to fin, snout to tail”, says COMO Group’s Head Chef Dan Moran.

Keep food waste as compost and opt for recyclable packing.

If you live somewhere drier, food waste won’t spoil too fast – use it to fertilise your home garden or your balcony herbs. You can also bring your own containers and cloth bags to market to reduce packaging waste.

At our remote island resorts, where miles to travel are inevitable, the kitchens do their best to take other environmentally conscious measures. Wherever possible, debris that washes up on shore is crushed and repurposed, and cooking oils are disposed of responsibly.

At COMO Maalifushi, there are even machines across the island that grind up food waste to produce fertiliser for the island.

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