Sourcing Sustainable Seafood: Lussmanns
Lussmanns is a collection of restaurants in Hertfordshire, all designed to combine mouthwatering dishes and a relaxed atmosphere with careful attention to provenance and ethical sourcing. With sustainability front-of-mind across operations at Lussmanns, we caught up with founder and Managing Director Andrei Lussmann to chat about sustainable seafood and their relationship with the FMG Standard.
Lussmanns was founded in 2002 with the fundamental belief that it’s possible to be both ethical and profitable. From the very beginning, founder and Managing Director Andrei Lussmann was clear on his priorities. “I learned from a very early age to value food and to enjoy food made with values. To me, a modern local restaurant is one that sources and serves quality ingredients produced to the highest standards by the UK’s finest fishers and farmers, at a price that’s accessible to all.” This definition resonates with local diners and industry experts alike; Giles Coren – one of the UK’s top restaurant critics – once described Lussmanns as ‘everything a modern local restaurant should be’.
Andrei is realistic about the work involved in ensuring his business continues to operate at this level. “Running a restaurant is bloody hard. Running a sustainable restaurant certainly isn’t any easier, but if you bake it in from the start, it becomes the ‘norm’.”
Rigorous and respected: Food Made Good at Lussmanns
He points to greenwashing as a particularly grating challenge. “You see other restaurants using flowery language to give customers the impression that they’re sustainable – but if you scratch beneath the surface, there’s literally nothing there apart from hot air.” Andrei believes that seeking certification from a credible external system is one of the best ways to ensure that Lussmanns is recognised for actually doing the hard work, rather than for simply talking about it. “It’s so important to have a rigorous and respected third party accreditation that sorts the wheat from the chaff – in the shape of the Food Made Good Standard.”
Lussmanns was one of the very first businesses to sign up with The SRA back in 2010, attracted by the opportunity to assess themselves against an independent, verifiable third-party set of criteria. “We knew [the Standard] would help us to celebrate the things we were doing well and shine a light in those shadowy corners, providing us with a framework for improvement, as well as introducing us to an invaluable network of like-minded hospitality professionals,” says Andrei. “It’s helped us continue to do more year-on-year and has provided us with a group of people to whom we can pick up the phone to talk about shared challenges and issues.”
We ignore the plight of the oceans at our peril
“Eating fish sustainably is the only way – today and every day,” says Andrei. “We ignore the plight of our oceans diminishing stocks at our peril. That doesn’t mean we have to stop enjoying seafood – but we do need to be conscious of where it’s come from.” At least half of the main courses on Lussmanns menus are seafood; in fact, they source and serve more than six tonnes every year, “from our excellent supplier, Stickleback.” The team feels so strongly about sourcing their seafood sustainably that in 2014 they became the first restaurant group outside London to obtain MSC Chain of Custody. “We’ve kept that ever since,” says Andrei with pride. “It’s an excellent, visible way for customers to know that when they order fish in Lussmanns, we’re leaving plenty in the sea.”
Customers vote with their forks
Andrei is clear that Lussmanns clientele cares about the restaurants’ commitment to sustainability. “Mostly, our customers vote with their forks.” Two of their three best-selling dishes are the whole Cornish sole and an MSC fishcake – both of which have been regulars on the menu for almost as long as Lussmanns has been open, demonstrating that people do choose dishes with excellent sustainability credentials. (“Although, to be fair,” says Andrei with a laugh, “that goes for everything on our menu!”)
The team is currently completing their Food Made Good Standard and is eager to use this as a roadmap to continue their hard work. “As soon as we get the full report, we’ll pore over that, identify the key areas for improvement and get the whole team to work on them together,” says Andrei. “Just like running a restaurant, with sustainability, there’s never a moment to rest on your laurels.”
Find out more about Lussmanns at their website, or dive deeper into the importance of sourcing seafood sustainably on our News & Insights page. If you’re ready to showcase your own ethically-sourced menus, it’s time to sign up for the Food Made Good Standard – the only global sustainability accreditation designed just for the hospitality industry.
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