Luncheonette is learning and growing and innovating all the time. This is where the fun is - inventing new systems, challenging habits, all the while pooling from the creative foundations of this business/art project.
in the background always
Here below are some progressive ideas that have emerged from asking good questions and thinking about the business like a very dear friend. The relationship is respectful, the energy you give is willing and free-flowing because the whole endeavour is based on choice (families we inherit, friends we make). It is kind and challenging. It will wake you up in the middle of the night. It will make you cry laughing. It will fight with you and drive you nuts. If you ignore it, it might sulk. You will worry about it. It will also worry about you. It will drag you up out of bed when you're blue, make you do new things, some you didn't think you could. You try to be sound and honest and accountable and when it matters you will have each other's back and make each other grow.
This has been profoundly helpful to me in gaining a deep and holistic understanding of sustainability. I have done lots of research and training around sustainability and the circular economy and learnt that a large part of ethical business practice is based upon acting on good instinct
impactAlmost like the Hippocratic oath for food producers - First, do no harm!
There are consequences to all our decisions, particularly on our scale of operation, for our planet, its creatures, our fellow humans. These are intimidating but worthwhile considerations which have always been part of the day to day running of Luncheonette. Our dining room is built from rescued materials (retired scaffolding planks, dumped computer desks, agricultural feeding buckets). Our mixing bowls are washing machine doors, our dinner glasses are cut and sandblasted cider bottles.
We are the first university in Ireland to stop using single use coffee cups, adopting instead a forgiving deposit and return scheme. This has been extraordinarily successful, party due to the lack of guilt involved. Life is complicated - it’s not always possible to have a keep cup in the right place at the right time.
Our operation is not zero waste but this is a goal. We are continuously examining ways to eliminate unnecessary packaging and air miles
If our food is to be a vehicle for joy and kindness we must be honest, use good ingredients, make the most of the seasons, select produce thoughtfully, thinking carefully about its provenance, the ethics involved, celebrating the beautiful produce available to us in Ireland and support our passionate farmers and producers. We celebrate what is local, plentiful and seasonal across the board.
We are continuously reviewing our food choices, researching, gaining knowledge, questioning suppliers, putting pressure on them to look to their own supply chain. We have raised our fruit and vegetable purchasing to roughly 80% Irish origin. We have decided to avoid using avocados - a vital local food in Central and South America which has now become too expensive because of the demand cafe menus have created, plus they get here on aeroplanes!
Our use of meat is thoughtful and conscientious. For instance, in the winter we serve orgainic venison from deer living wild and fallow on Lambay Island, feeding on gorse, heather and herbs. These creatures ave not been reared for slaughter, their use as food is a by-product of culling of the national herd to 250,000.
We would love to find a solution to the way we buy dairy milk and the volume of plastic packaging used here. We are developing recipies for our own barista quality oat milk to avoid the air miles and excessive packaging of the big brand version.
We are always tipping away at our practices, tackling them one by one. The challenges don't ever go away but they should be geting more interesting.
workplaceThe most important part of Luncheonette is the people working there. Without them it is nothing but a deluded set of stagnant notions in a big fat vacuum. They are everything. Working in a food business is full on, both in the kitchen and front of house. It is crucial that Luncheonette provide a supportive and positive work environment, where people have a clear understanding of their individual creative contribution and have the space to support each other. Our work days can be intense so we need a dynamic environment which feels emotionally, intellectually and physically rewarding.
training (giving & receiving)
Luncheonette was chosen to take part in Modos, an excellent 6 month circular economy training program delivered by Dublin City Council covering topics like Supply Chain, Logistics and Procurement, Resource Efficiency, Design Thinking, Communications and Engagement. This was vastly useful and practical and also quite affirming - I realised that we were already instinctively implementing a lot of these approaches from the outset.
We are now regularly invited to share knowledge and experience on sustainability through workshops and panel discussions