Lifestyle & Culture

Bertrand Grébaut: The Chef Leading a Sustainable Food Revolution in Paris

The former graffiti artist is one of the co-founders of Septime, one of the most critically acclaimed and ecologically-focused restaurants in the world.

18.06.2019 | by Christy Romer
Photo by Hangar-7
Photo by Hangar-7

There’s something compelling about the quiet, unassuming charisma of someone completely committed to a particular project — even more so if there’s an understanding that their work is having a positive impact on the world around us.

That’s the case for Bertrand Grébaut, once a graffiti artist and graphic designer, and now one of the hottest chefs in Paris. It’s not hard to see why: his Michelin-star-winning restaurant, Septime, opened with business partner Théo Pouriat, is consistently praised for offering exceedingly high-quality and locally-sourced food in a cosy, neighbourhood-style environment.

What’s more, it does this alongside an overtly ethical approach to working with suppliers, contractors, and the natural world.

Septime’s positivity starts with the food: beef is banned at the restaurant, given the overwhelmingly negative impact of the industry on the environment. So too is fish caught using techniques that damage marine life.

Instead, whenever meat of any kind is needed, Grébaut orders the whole animal, using the less common cuts in broths or staff meals. The chef is also particularly fond of less ‘popular’ or ‘fashionable’ catches, including pouting and horse mackerel.

The positivity is also social. Septime’s staff, the majority of whom are female — a rarity in the male-dominated restaurant business — are paid at least 1.3 times the local minimum wage. Trusted fish suppliers are guaranteed more than 20% of the market price, and Grébaut and Pouriat work closely with Ernest, a charity tackling food poverty in local neighbourhoods.

Then there’s the positive impact on the local environment. Septime is an ardent member of Bon Pour Le Climat, a programme to reduce the carbon footprint of the hospitality sector, and Grébaut features prominently in a seed bank project aiming to save 1,400 seed varieties. The restaurant also made the unusual decision to collaborate with a private contractor for waste measurement and monitoring, leading to a “to-the-gram” portioning concept, to avoid food waste and recycling possibilities that the restaurant found more satisfying than relying on municipal options.

Our habits must change if we are to heal the world we live in. Grébaut’s work is helping to make those changes seem easier, cooler, and more achievable.

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