PARTNER PORTRAIT EquiTable restaurant – uncompromisingly sustainable, award-winning cuisine

Five years ago the EquiTable restaurant was opened in Zurich’s district 4 with an extraordinary ambition. The guests were to be offered top-level cuisine, cooked and managed in a sustainable, regional, seasonal and climate friendly way, without compromise. 16 points in Gault&Millau, one Michelin star and the constantly high number of guests show that the bold approach has paid off. Roland Jenni, co-founder of EquiTable, talks about the beginnings, stimuli for Swiss catering industry and the cooperation with myclimate.

The EquiTable restaurant in Zurich's district 4 offers top-level cuisine, cooked and managed in a sustainable, regional, seasonal and climate friendly way.

Mr Jenni, how did you come up with the idea of commercially championing sustainable, climate and environmentally friendly high-end catering?

Initially it was not commercially motivated, but based on a desire to bring the subject of sustainability to the menus of high-end catering. Of course, we also wanted to be economically successful – in order to be able to survive in the long term.

Looking back, what were the biggest challenges and obstacles you had to overcome with the restaurant?

The biggest challenge was the same as for other restaurants, the difficult catering business. In other words: footfall, costing, margins, rental and wage costs. Due to our very high number of guests, we have good figures for rental and wage costs in relation to turnover. We compensate for the increased product costs for organic and Fairtrade by making use of off-cuts – they are not waste! – and appropriate portions, which in turn has a positive effect on the carbon footprint.

Why do you place emphasis on your cooperation with myclimate and what new stimuli have you had from this?

Offsetting the CO₂ emissions was too little and too simple for us. We particularly wanted more information about the emissions relating to food because it is our core business and because we can really influence this, in contrast with energy consumption and energy use in the property where, as tenants, we have little scope. 

Why did you decide to take on climate neutrality yourself and not leave the choice to your guests, for example to eat in a climate-neutral way for an extra charge?

Because we do not want to force our guests to make “compulsory donations”. The guests come here to enjoy themselves and do not necessarily want to be reminded of their carbon footprint. On the other hand, we want to be transparent with interested parties about how our conduct, sources, transport, kitchen waste, etc. affect our carbon footprint. Climate neutrality is part of our DNA and therefore a conscious decision which we make as a company. It should also not be a sales argument.

What stimuli and insights can and would you like to introduce into the Swiss catering landscape from EquiTable?

In our cooperation with myclimate, right from the start we placed emphasis on finding a pragmatic approach to keeping the outlay for climate calculation within limits for a small restaurant business. With this pilot project, together with myclimate we wanted to create a feasible model to be copied in the catering industry. The costs of climate offsetting are totally manageable for a five-course menu.

EquiTable is a <link _blank external-link "Opens external link in current window">climate neutral restaurant</link> with myclimate. It is situated in Zurich’s district 4, Stauffacherstrasse 163, and is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 6.30 pm. Twice a month the EquiTable team around chef Fabian Fuchs also offers a lunchtime meal. More information on the  <link _blank external-link "Opens external link in current window">EquiTable website</link>.

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