Drawing portrait of Paolo Sari - Credit: © Peter James Field

Paolo Sari takes organic food to the stars

At Elsa in Monte-Carlo Beach, Paolo Sari orchestrates his healthy, sustainable, Michelin starred cuisine. More than a commitment, it’s a vocation that he takes beyond his own walls.

For Paolo Sari, organic doesn’t only mean healthy and well balanced, it also means respect for products, producers and the environment.

You are the only chef to have introduced strict organic certification. Why?

Offering the only Michelin starred restaurant that is also level 3 Ecocert certified is the embodiment of my vision of a marriage between cuisine and nature. Haute cuisine bears testimony that it is possible to get back to nature. The last fifty years have been catastrophic in terms of the environment and the climate. Our natural resources have reached saturation point because of industrial scale overproduction on the land and excessive consumption - to the point where it harms our health. For me cooking with high quality, locally sourced certified organic products was an obvious choice. Since arriving in Monaco in 2012, I have managed to identify the needs of the resort and find local supplies with the help of 15 small producers, whose land - also Ecocert certified – is situated between Cavaillon (France) and Albenga (Italy). We have also set up a cooperative transport system to reduce CO2 emissions. We share the same passion for the earth, nature and produce. The initiative is also important for the local economy, since the suppliers are small producers who have rediscovered their love of working the land, despite the difficulties of the current economic context.

Where does your feel for the environment come from?

I became aware of the situation while I was traveling. Traveling inspires me and keeps me alert to what is happening around me. We sacrificed a whole generation of small producers in order to have cherries at Christmas. Why go to the other side of the world for things that nature offers close to hand? None of the ingredients I use has flown, and my customers are able to rediscover the taste of seasonal fruit and vegetables grown in an environmentally friendly way.

Organic products, a limited ecological footprint... how far are you prepared to go?

As far as taking beef off the menu. Cattle farms are devouring farmland all over the world. It is completely illogical. We produce fodder to feed the cattle and then put them on our plates. Why don’t we use this farmland directly to feed people? Furthermore, red meat in excess may lead to cardiovascular disease. Taking a biological approach means being responsible and consistent. In Monte-Carlo Beach we offer poultry or lamb raised in the region, or fish that has come from sustainable fishing practices.

Do you encourage other chefs to follow your example?

Of course! We have to lead by example and encourage any approach that is environmentally friendly. We have to educate consumers so they become ethical consumers and adopt a seasonal, local and therefore healthier diet. At home, you can have fun by preparing variety of healthy dishes that are also good for the planet. We also have to educate young people. I would like to go into schools to meet with the children. I would like to offer organic children’s menus. And open up my gardens to catering school students and explain the principles of biodynamics. We need to educate future generations in order to protect the planet.

Main picture: Drawing portrait of Paolo Sari
Credit: © Peter James Field

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