The impact of the green star

Since 2021, restaurants can, in addition to the regular star, also earn a green Michelin star for their efforts in the field of sustainability. To this end, Michelin inspectors look at the use of local and seasonal ingredients, the ecological footprint, food waste, general waste processing and recycling and sustainable management. In the Netherlands, fifteen restaurants now have such a 'shamrock' after their name. Six chefs talk about the impact of the green star.

What does sustainability mean to you and how do you apply this in work and private life?

Emile van der Staak: “The most important thing is that we do not neglect future generations. That to me is the definition of sustainability. Everyone can contribute to a better world. I can't imagine that if the world is your oyster, you wouldn't have the will to dedicate your career to the great challenges of our time. And on an individual level it means that I no longer eat meat anyway.”
Jos Timmer: “At De Kas, sustainability is woven into everything we do, consciously and unconsciously. The restaurant has been around for more than twenty years, so it was a pioneer in that field. Wim (de Beer, ed.) and I include sustainability in all decisions we make. Of course in the field of food and drinks, but we also make the menus from waste material, the staff wears sustainable company clothing and we do not have too long working days. In my private life, I try to consume less and teach my children to eat mainly vegetarian food.”
Martijn Koeleman: “I find that difficult. You can do a lot to be sustainable, but yes, I still drive on petrol. I think it is especially important that we reflect on it. Why are we doing something? At home I also try to cook largely vegetarian meals, we ensure that the heating is not set higher than 18 degrees and we cycle as much as possible. We want to make the house more sustainable, but we have just completed a complete renovation, so the solar panels and heat pump will have to wait a little longer. We have prepared everything in such a way that we can turn it into a gas-free home.”
Luc Kusters: “Sustainability for me means looking for everything in the solution to be circular. This is not always possible in private. Designing a children's room sustainably, for example, may not be possible in the rush and hustle and bustle of a household with children. To this end, companies such as IKEA must also take responsibility, just as we do with the restaurant. These solutions must be offered more easily.”
Jonnie & Thérèse Boer: “We think it is important to be sustainable. When we renovate, we do as much as possible ourselves. We look for services or products as close to the door as possible. Local is a very important theme in our lives. Both at work and privately.”
Niven Kunz: “Sustainability is central to our lives, although we do not do everything perfectly. We drive back and forth between Amsterdam and Wateringen five times a week, and not electrically - that is still an area for improvement. But when shopping we make sure that we buy as many products from the Netherlands as possible. In the supermarket we lift the pepper to see where it comes from. In the restaurant we also pay close attention to where the ingredients come from and whether the suppliers operate sustainably. For example, we only work with hand-dived scallops and the farm duck we currently have on the menu is local and organic. Furthermore, we choose dried flowers instead of fresh flowers on the table, our house champagne is sustainable, the paper we use is made from tomato pulp, we do not print the receipts but are digital…”

Photo: John van Helvert | Emile van der Staak, The New Shop | Signature dish: De Nieuwe Winkel: Dutch quinoa tempeh with Chinese mahogany and tempeh prawn crackers

Which green initiative within the restaurant are you most proud of?

Emile van der Staak: “We most recently entered into a collaboration with Fabriek Fris and I learned a lot about how polluting and dehumanizing the clothing industry is. Of course, you know this to some extent if you follow the news about fast fashion, but if you delve deeper into this, the scales will fall from your eyes.”
Jos Timmer: “It's not so much an initiative, but I always feel proud when an inveterate meat eater has eaten completely vegetarian almost unnoticed and at the end of a lunch or dinner says: 'That was so delicious.'”
Martijn Koeleman: “I am especially proud that we have managed to be self-sufficient all year round within a very short period of time. We are now 99 percent of that with our vegetables and 80 percent with our fruit. To achieve this, we had to look closely at how you can preserve products. What can you can and what cannot? And what are the canning techniques? Those have been the biggest challenges.”
Luc Kusters: “That used to be our vegetable garden on the Zuidas; that made us truly unique. Then the 100 percent plant-based menu, including desserts and chocolates. Nowadays this is our sustainable building with a circular design. The furniture is not disposable plastic, but is made of wood and sheet steel – which will last longer than me. The cloths hanging here can be recycled. We have a moss wall, which is perfect for the acoustics. Many restaurants are not yet working on this. Over time, every five years there is something new in which we are at the forefront. I will be able to provide an update on this answer in five years.”
Jonnie & Thérèse Boer: “We have been working with local suppliers since day one. That has always been the norm for us in our kitchen. But this year we will also invest heavily in our monumental building. We are going to make it extremely sustainable. For example, we will be working on solar panels, but also installing a system that ensures that warm air circulates back into the building and is not blown outside.”
Niven Kunz: “I am especially proud that we continue to look at ourselves critically: where can we improve, what can we do just a little more sustainably? I am also proud of the fact that we persevered and that we never deviated from the 80/20 rule. Eighteen years ago that was so progressive! People even walked away from the table, not expecting vegetables in a star restaurant but langoustines. And finally, it's nice to see that we can surprise new guests: they often leave with the comment 'we didn't miss the meat at all, it was that tasty!'”

Photo: Rinze Vegelien | Jos Timmer, De Kas

Signature dish De Kas: fresh strawberries with crème patisserie, meringue and verveine

“I can't imagine that if the world is your oyster, you wouldn't have the will to dedicate your career to the great challenges of our time”


Michelin rewards sustainability within the restaurant industry with the green star. What could/should the government do in turn to promote sustainability within our food culture?

Emile van der Staak: “The government would do well to calculate the actual price of dairy and meat. All social costs (hidden healthcare costs, environmental and climate damage and animal welfare) associated with the production and consumption of meat should be included in the price.”
Jos Timmer: “What I always strongly believe in is education. So make it clear to children at school from an early age where the food comes from. So that they can consciously make their choices about what they do and do not want to eat.”
Martijn Koeleman: “Lower taxes on fruit and vegetables and raise taxes on unhealthy food. Make sure healthy eating becomes accessible to people. And the government could look at a system in which they do not provide people who have less to spend with a benefit here and there, which they can also spend on chips or tobacco, but give them a credit with which they can only buy fruit and vegetables. .”
Luc Kusters: “A new tax system for purely plants, so that people can eat well cheaply. And a fixed tax on a kilo of meat, although that will be more difficult to achieve. Because now good, expensive meat is taxed more heavily than a rotten chicken, because it is included in the price.”
Jonnie & Thérèse Boer: “To really take steps in this regard, the government should start with training. If we learn at a young age that it is the norm to be locally focused and if we also learn more about the production process of the products... That is knowledge that will last your entire life. Knowledge that is also easier to transfer to others. The youth are our future. The youth are the future.”
Niven Kunz: “The government must above all ensure that vegetables become more affordable. 80/20 is an achievable goal, for which people do not dig in their heels. But then it must become affordable and it cannot be the case that the kilo bangers and slavinks in value packs are cheaper than a pack of peppers. And put more Dutch vegetables on the shelves instead of getting them from other countries.”

Martijn Koeleman, De Dyck | De Dyck's signature dish: asparagus with savory, siitake and sweet woodruff

What does the green star mean to you and what impact does it have on the restaurant?

Emile van der Staak: “For us it is a recognition, you hope that the green star is an encouragement for others to change their behavior.”
Jos Timmer: “To start with, it is a super nice compliment from Michelin. The impact on our business operations is not that great, because we were working on it long before sustainability became trendy. People already knew, so we won't get more audience because of that star. And it's also in the name, De Kas: then you know what to expect.”
Martijn Koeleman: “The green star has had a major impact on our customer base. Our restaurant is kind of like that in the middle of nowhere. Although you can be in Amsterdam and Leiden in twenty minutes, you better get those people out of the city. They know how to find us through that star. And it's great that we receive recognition from Michelin that we are doing something right. Not that we doubted our vision, but it is satisfying when the restaurant is well filled.”
Luc Kusters: “The green star means that what we do becomes tangible for our guests. Because if Michelin says it, then it is. What we have been pioneering since 2010 and what was very difficult to express to the outside world has suddenly become very easy: we have a green star. Doors open and it is also a means to take further steps to be progressive. We were the very first restaurant with a green star and always will be. We received it two weeks before the end of the lockdown. There couldn't have been better timing: all the jars were gone and now we were immediately full for a year. That star feels more like justice than benefit. We had already been working on it for over ten years, which is quite a long investment. And it is always nice when an investment comes into its own.”
Jonnie & Thérèse Boer: “For us, the green star is a sign of recognition and appreciation. Because we have been working on sustainability from the start, through our own greenhouse, our own garden and through collaborations with farmers from the area, it is above all a confirmation that we are doing it right.”
Niven Kunz: “The green star means a lot to us. It is recognition from Michelin for what we do and what we stand for: sustainability. You also notice that people come to eat with us specifically for that purpose. What exactly does that green star mean? We are busier than before.”

Luc Kusters, Bolenius | Signature dish Bolenius: the vegetable garden of the Zuidas (20 different vegetables)

To what extent will the green star ultimately approach or surpass the Michelin star in recognition?

Emile van der Staak: “I don't know whether such a green star will ever gain the prestige that is now associated with the red star. However, its relevance is now many times greater given the challenges we face.”
Jos Timmer: “To approach the red star, it must first become clearer what the criteria for a green star are. So what the restaurants should do and not do. I applaud the initiative, but sometimes you wonder why one restaurant has it and another doesn't. Even for me as a catering professional, this is still not completely clear at times. Once people know what a green star stands for, they can also consciously choose to visit a specific restaurant. Then the green star would gain more value.”
Martijn Koeleman: “I don't know if the green star will eventually surpass the red star. I actually don't think so. But I do think that in the future, more people who want to eat out luxuriously will also be willing to pay for sustainability and will therefore book a restaurant that carries both stars.”
Luc Kusters: “I think the green star will surpass the red star in some respects. Take B2B for example: parties that provide catering will still want to indicate that they are thinking about their choices. But they also want the quality of the red star. We have both. Last year we did a lot of events for business purposes, outside the home. Ultimately, the red star will remain timeless. Partly because there are three levels, a competition. The green star is one emblem: you are or are not a role model for sustainable gastronomy. Originally, Michelin, which felt compelled by the spirit of the times to make sustainability visible within restaurants, had devised an emblem that would have the same value as qualifications such as cutlery and the Bib Gourmand. The so-called Emblem Durable, in the shape of a green clover, was only designed to provide direction. Colloquially it soon came to be called a green star, but they never developed it that way. Within six months, Michelin adopted this from the public, because it took on a life of its own and became one big success story. They had not thought about that at all when developing the emblem. They never thought it would gain the power of a star. They embraced that very quickly. And so do I, because the green star has certainly proven to be just as valuable as the red one.”
Jonnie & Thérèse Boer: “We do not think that the green star will ever surpass the Michelin star. They are two different movements. They both mean something different. It can therefore never be a replacement for each other, but rather a complement. Together these two are a token of ultimate appreciation and recognition.”
Niven Kunz: “We experience that both stars are already equal for guests. A star is a star. There are even those who think that the red star has been replaced by the green one, haha. The green star even has an advantage among some guests because it is distinctive: few have been awarded so far. Restaurants with a green star are more sparse than those with a red one. In any case, we are very proud of it!”

Photo: John van Helvert | Niven Kunz, Triptyque | Signature dish Triptyque: carrot steak tartare with pickle and smoked vinaigrette

What other green steps do you want to take with the restaurant?

Emile van der Staak: “One day I hope to build a completely ecological restaurant with my background in civil engineering and construction. So grow hemp one year and process it as insulation material the next year.”
Jos Timmer: “We would like to get even more out of our own gardens. Quantitative, but also qualitative – even more special ingredients. To this end, we have entered into a new partnership with BioRomeo, a partnership between thirty-five organic (dynamic) farmers. And we also want to cook even more plant-oriented. That remains an eternal drive of ours. There are always steps to be taken, you can always improve yourself.”
Martijn Koeleman: “We still cook on gas, we want to get rid of that. But for the short term, with the lean corona years just behind us, that is too big an investment. We hope that we can take that green step in 2025. We also want to become completely self-sufficient in fruit. This takes a little longer than with vegetables, because a fruit tree needs time to grow. And for the rest, become even more sustainable in the things we do. Can we insulate better? Are there less harmful cleaning products? There are always things that could be improved.”
Luc Kusters: “We are going to expand with the vegetable gardens. From next year, a piece of land will be added in Abcoude and there will also be a green area on the Zuidas.”
Jonnie & Thérèse Boer: “As mentioned earlier, we are going to put a lot of work into making the monumental building where De Librije is located more sustainable this year. We are also working on creating a large farm on Bonaire where we want to grow sustainable food for the population. In fact, a local source for everyone on Bonaire.”
Niven Kunz: “We are already doing a lot in the field of sustainability. We even turn off the lights and heaters during breaks, being aware that we cannot use the heat all the time. We would prefer to install double glazing, but it is a monumental building, so that is not allowed. A simple step we are going to take: get rid of the tea lights.”

Jonnie & Thérèse Boer, De Librije
Signature dish De Librije: oysters with Brabant goat cheese and seaweeds from the Oosterschelde. This dish consists only of products from Dutch soil. The juice is made from acids from Kesbeke.

What is your vision for the future of food?

Emile van der Staak: “Less animals and more plants.”
Jos Timmer: “My vision is that we will eat plant-based in the future. But when you hear that average meat consumption is still increasing every year, I am a bit concerned. We will all really have to make a huge change. Fortunately, there are more and more restaurants that share our vision. And many people say they have started living more sustainably. I hope they really do that: fly less, eat less meat, buy less stuff.”Martijn Koeleman: “Ultimately we will eat more vegetables and more from our own environment. We do not have to stop dairy and meat, but we will have to look at how we can make that 'industry' healthy, in a way that is also good for the animals.”
Luc Kusters: “What we do becomes the standard in gastronomy. I am convinced of that, otherwise I would have done something different. Although, in addition to local gastronomy, concepts such as the Chinese or the Pizzeria will continue to exist.”
Jonnie & Thérèse Boer: “In the future, we will pay even more attention to the locality of our food and we will work with vegetables even more. A trend that has of course been going on for a while, but we believe it will certainly continue for a while.”
Niven Kunz: “People still think in terms of meat: we're having steak tonight, with something on the side? That will change into: what should we eat with the broccoli tonight? Thinking from vegetables, that is the future of food.”

MASTERS Magazine

This article is from MASTERS Magazine. How passion, craftsmanship and enthusiasm can excite the senses. That is the common thread of the spring edition of MASTERS, which takes you through many catering entrepreneurs: from the big winner of the recent Michelin ceremony, Jurgen van der Zalm van Vinkeles, to 'Horecatering Entrepreneur of the Year' Herman Hell. Speaking of Michelin: what is actually the impact of the green star, which saw the light of day in 2021? MASTERS posed that question to six prominent chefs. During a business lunch in Bridges restaurant, Dennis Albada Jelgersma explains how he farms as a winegrower and celebrates life: “Not with a block of cheese and a lukewarm pipe.” The appetizing creations in Culinaire Couture prove that a good outfit is like a feast for the eyes. David Yarrow's fascinating photography is also a feast for the eyes. We get into the Lucid Air Touring to experience whether the electric car can have the same effect on the senses as the combustion engine. And we enter heaven for audiophiles: Bang & Olufsen Brussee. In short: plenty of stimuli for the reading buds. A song to enjoy!

Order MASTERS Magazine #57 here