ETHOS OF CONSTANT IMPROVEMENT FIRES TOYO EATERY TO ASIA’S 50 BEST SUCCESS
By Tom Tanner, Sustainable Restaurant Association
Chefs and restaurants the world over, especially those high profile ones with a platform to influence, have a hugely important role to play in the future of food and, by extension, the future of our planet.
That’s why we so cherish our relationship with The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, as sustainability audit partner, determining the winner of the Sustainability Award at all its global and regional ceremonies, for both restaurants and bars.
Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 goes a long way to proving that point, as this year’s winner, Toyo Eatery in Manila, not only recognises its role and responsibility, but is grasping it with both hands and creating a model of continual positive change that should be an inspiration for restaurants not just in The Philippines, but globally.
Whilst respecting the environment is obviously a key part of sustainability, for Toyo Eatery respecting traditions and cultures of the people they work with and their terroir, is their number one focus.
Toyo Eatery’s operations are all centred around forming relationships with others who are having a positive impact on the country. Focussing particularly on heritage and indigenous crafts and forming long-term relationships with suppliers and producers who are very much seen as partners.
One of the most inspiring elements of this very progressive restaurant’s philosophy is the dedication to keeping doing more and finding new ways to source and serve food that has the most positive impact possible, best described in this quote from their comprehensive 2022 sustainability report.
“We may not be the most sustainable restaurant in the world, but we know that we are at our most sustainable today. In the years to come, the plan is to uphold and better our values, to grow and evolve with whatever changes the world may face.”
An example of this is the shift on beef. In 2020 they took the decision to stop importing it. And then two years later, in 2022, removed it entirely from the menu. Now, more than half the dishes on the tasting menu are vegetarian or vegan.
Further proof of this commitment to constant improvement lies in their transparent sourcing policy which is built on three principles – local, organic and traceable, As of now, 90% of ingredients are sourced locally, 75% are organic and the same proportion are traceable. They’re working to 2025 target of 95%, 90% and 90%.
Heritage and native ingredients like a mountain violet heirloom rice, which as the name suggests is purple (even when cooked), are at the absolute heart of their food philosophy. By sourcing and serving them, they’re supporting both biodiversity and a network of artisan producers.
A restaurant must operate in the environment in which its located. In Toyo’s case, this helps them when it comes to what are often high risk commodities like tea, coffee and sugar, as they’re able to source 90% locally and, even better, they’re mostly organic too.
To really understand Toyo’s ethos, it’s probably best to look at one of its signature dishes. Bahay Kubo, comprises 18 vegetables, all cooked in different ways. It epitomises the valuable relationships formed, and that continue to be cultivated, with Toyo’s partner farmers.
That relationship with farmers was also evident in a major fundraising event Toyo ran for Good Food Co, a cooperative of female farmers, to help them adapt to climate related risks and strengthen community responses to these risks.
The wellbeing of staff is a major priority too. Every year the business closes to give the whole team time off to rest and recuperate.
Targets to improve the overall impact of the restaurant go beyond sourcing. In two years, they’ve also committed to reducing their energy and water consumption by 25% and achieve zero food waste by the end of 2024.
We congratulate chef Jordy Navarra and his team and wish them well as they continue to strive to do more. We’ll be keeping a keen eye on their progress.
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