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Café St Honoré - sustainable packaging

By Jill Blair

If 2020 has been good for anything, the restaurant takeaway is a contender for the top spot. So what do you do about all the packaging they require when sustainability is at the very heart of your business? I spoke to Neil Forbes, Chef Director of Edinburgh’s Café St Honoré, to find out how he and his team have approached this in order to provide an “at home” dining experience whilst remaining true to the restaurant’s core values.

Neil explained that sourcing the right packaging was a major factor in the decision to offer a takeaway option, "We were only going to do it if we could source sustainable packaging that was reusable, compostable or biodegradable. My philosophy has always revolved around sustainability, and it does actually help improve the bottom line. Plus, who doesn’t want to look after our planet? As one of the founding members of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), we really do care about what we do at Café."

After chatting it over with fellow SRA pals, Neil tried out some products from BioPak that fitted the bill. It's been a learning experience for the team in the kitchen, and not without mishap! "I learnt the hard way that a hot custard cannot be poured into a see-through biodegradable container as it melts with the heat," Neil told me. "It was funny finding it out! Now of course, I cool the custard first, then pour. At home, people need to make sure they don’t put the see-through lids in the microwave, as they are made from veg starch and they will melt. Fascinating stuff really."

Their at home offerings have gone from strength to strength since then. The suet crust Pie of the Week went down very well in my house, and festive menus for Christmas and Hogmanay were released this week. The new online shop is full of treats such as shortbread and oatcakes, plus delicious jams and pickles in jars that customers are encouraged to refill with their own home made efforts: "One thing that’s so good about Scotland is the amount of really good, but inexpensive, seasonal produce. I’ve always said that if you eat alongside the seasons, you will eat cheaper with no compromise on quality. For example, strawberries in season are dirt cheap, so eat lots and make jam for the rest of the year. Don’t wait until January to buy strawberries as they will be coming from the other side of the world, very unsustainable!"

Neil Forbes will be at Edinburgh farmers' market on 12th and 19th December selling goodies from their shop as well as festive favourites like mince pies and Christmas puddings. And if you haven't had a Café St Honoré Christmas pud before, get down there early to grab one - you're in for a real treat!

0131 226 2211

34 North West Thistle Street Lane, Edinburgh, EH2 1EA

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