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Mice Net : October 2008
melbourne Refining the dining experience Epicure continues to be a market leader. mice.net caught up with the company’s executive manager of brand and market development, Michael Milburn. Q: Does Epicure source local produce to reduce its food mile footprint? A: [Our] food philosophy leads to reduction in food miles. Our food philosophy provides us with market leadership in our approach to producing our menus in an environmentally sustainable way and in supporting local producers and communities in the purchase of their products. Our menus are seasonal in nature changing in spring/summer and autumn/winter and designed to take advantage of produce when it is at its best – in season. By supporting (and favouring) local producers and products over imported we aim to reduce the ‘food miles’ travelled by our produce further reducing our carbon footprint on the environment. An obvious example of this approach is asparagus. At Epicure we only feature asparagus on our menus during spring/ early summer when it is seasonal in Melbourne. Nearly all asparagus we use is sourced from Koo Wee Rup in Victoria (around 100km from the CBD). If we chose to we could still be featuring asparagus today but it comes from Peru and has to travel in excess of 12,000 kms before it gets to Melbourne. We just won’t use products like this which have such a detrimental impact on the environment. Helping those in need We have entered into an agreement with SecondBite to collect any good-quality leftover food (particularly from larger events) with a minimum of 48 hours shelf life for distribution to worthwhile charities in Melbourne. By doing this we are minimising our food wastage and assisting those in our community who are less well off than ourselves. Green table initiative The Green Table initiative commenced in Canada in 2006 to provide a vehicle (and measure) for 102 mice.net restaurants and caterers to undertake practical measures to reduce their energy usage in the day to day activity of managing their respective business. The initiative was launched in Australia in August 2008 by Restaurant & Catering Australia. In conjunction with the City of Melbourne and Restaurant & Catering Victoria, Epicure has agreed to put forward the Melbourne Town Hall as a test case on the initiative in Victoria. During the implementation of Green Table at the Melbourne Town Hall we will be establishing processes and procedures to: • reduce our energy and water usage • environmentally dispose of waste • ensure our recycling policy is best practice • and ensure that all packaging and paper products are biodegradable and made using environmentally sustainable practices Q: How does Epicure translate the quality (of local produce) to the plate? A: Melbourne is often referred to as the “food bowl” of Australia and there is good reason for this. Our range of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and game is world class and mostly abundant. We have quality large-scale and niche producers such as Otway free range pork, high country beef, Mount Zero organic pulses and olive oils, Yarra Valley salmon roe, Koo Wee Rup asparagus, Dobson’s potatoes and the list goes on. All of these producers are regularly featured on our menus along with dozens more. The key to sourcing quality seasonal produce is to visit the supplier and understand how they produce their food product. All our suppliers undergo a stringent Q&A process. One of the other factors we have to take into account is supply; it’s very important that a supplier (big or small) is able to provide us consistency and regularly handle some of the large quantities that we require. We always acknowledge key suppliers in our menu