“We did this by limiting our choice of ingredients: no less than 95% of the ingredients we used had to be sourced locally. By showcasing the local produce and uniqueness of rare Taiwanese ingredients, we hoped to spread the message of sustainable practices through our dishes and dining experiences,” says Lin.
Today, the team maintains that ambition to source locally as far as possible while delivering a culinary offering that sees modern techniques and a Western approach applied to fine seasonal produce, dominated by fruit, vegetables and seafood, the latter caught by local fisherman off the extensive coastlines of the island of Taiwan.
The team didn’t stop there. Not only is fresh produce sourced locally, but tea, coffee, sugar, chocolate, rice and soy used in the restaurant also all come from within Taiwan’s borders. And local isn’t the only requirement. Farming and production methods are taken into account. For example, the local native-breed beef comes from farms powered by renewable energy.
As the products make their way from source to the restaurant, various aspects of the food journey have been considered. When it comes to deliveries, for example, these are carefully scheduled to reduce transportation while packaging or lack thereof is key.
Within the restaurant, a reduce, recycle and reuse policy alongside a zero-waste initiative aim to minimise food waste, producing no more than two bags of rubbish each day. The team takes a nose-to-tail approach to proteins, using as much of an animal as possible and adding trimmings to stocks. More broadly, energy and water usage is monitored.
There are also efforts to create a sustainable working environment by “encouraging gender equality, job training on sustainable topics, treating staff fairly by setting various guidelines in the kitchen and work place,” according to Lin, who additionally is set upon offering staff a 4.5 day working week and paid training opportunities. Health and wellbeing is important and put at the heart of the staff experience—with expertise in nutrition, Lin provides healthy meals that also incorporate any restaurant surplus. The next generation is not forgotten either with Mume providing internships and other professional opportunities to students and graduates of Taiwan’s top hospitality school.
The ethos of Mume's founding members when it comes to sustainability owes much to their early professional experiences. Lin and Ward met at restaurant Quay in Australia working under Peter Gilmore, who is known for his love of plants and the importance he places on sourcing, while Lin met Xiong staging at Noma in Copenhagen, whose chef Rene Redzepi is highly regarded for his commitment to sustainability.