AUTHOR: Tom TANNER

As a chef and restaurateur with green blood coursing through your veins, what do you do when your business has been widely recognised as the most sustainable in the UK?  If you’re Tim Bouget of ODE-truefood, you certainly don’t go resting on your locally sourced laurels.

2018 saw Tim’s beachside Devon café scoop the Sustainable Restaurant Award and the Reduce Reuse Recycle category at the Food Made Made Good Awards for its community-wide campaign against single-use plastic. Accepting the mantle of influencer, Tim decided to engage customers, neighbouring restaurants, suppliers and local children in his environmental crusade.

Customers who participated in a beach cleaning scheme received a free coffee for every bucket they filled. Then they engaged children from the local primary school to create a sculpture using the waste.

A long-term advocate of ditching single-use plastic, but conscious that alternatives can be out of the price range of some small businesses, Tim established a local buying group. Now all the village’s cafés, pubs and shops have switched to bioplastics. Having taken single-use plastic out of the village, he switched his attention to the local food festival – Taste of the Teign. It hasn’t stopped there. Through his role as a director of the local tourist board Tim also managed to extend the discounted rate on bioplastics for 300 businesses in the region.

ODE-truefood has well and truly demonstrated that a restaurant business, no matter how small and regardless of its location, can show people what a better food system can look like, both on the plate and beyond.

Inevitably, Tim and his team are continuing to move forward and have cooked up another brilliant way to further reduce their packaging footprint and engage their customers in the process – by saving them money on a delicious dish. From today, World Environment Day, customers at café-ODE can tuck into the latest delicious innovation: A Feast Fill of ODE.

Tim says: “In the same way as many cafés offer a discount to customers using their own refillable cups, I wanted to incentivise café-ODE customers to bring their own containers to take away food.”

Customers can choose one of two dishes to fill their lunchbox, either local Teign Valley venison cooked in rich ODE ale sauce with chestnut mushrooms, wild garlic and Riverford farm Jersey royal potatoes, or plant-based option for £6.50 –a £3 discount on the regular price.

Continuing café-ODE’s community conscious quest, £2 per dish sold will be donated to Teignmouth Surf Lifesaving Club.

Tim adds: “The end result is customers can enjoy a tasty sustainable treat to eat in or take away whilst receiving a substantial discount and know they are contributing to the local economy and simultaneously helping to take care of our environment. This amazing club with 800 members of all ages, teaches not only life-saving skills but love, care and respect for the oceans.”

Anyone heading to Glastonbury 2019 will be able to see the plastic collected from the ODE beach cleans put to excellent use – it’s been transformed into the Shangri La stage.

Congratulations to Tim and all at café-ODE for demonstrating that when you’re winning – just keep winning a bit more!