It’s a crowded world. Global population now stands at seven billion people and expert projections place this figure at 9.6 billion by 2050—that’s a lot of mouths to feed. But the more pressing issue is that the way we’re growing and producing food today is hurting our planet.
Agriculture and food production has been named one of the top three culprits in environmental degradation, right up there with transportation and energy production. In the race to put food on the table, the industry has left in its trail, polluted waters, ever-rising carbon dioxide emissions and endangered wildlife.
This has spurred a sustainable food movement worldwide, one that seeks to change processes and, perhaps more importantly, people’s attitude towards food and food sources. The term, however, has been used rather loosely and interchangeably with organic food.
“There is a huge difference between sustainable and organic food,” clarifies Chef Fernando Arevalo, the man who helms the kitchen at Artemis Grill. “Food is sustainable when it is, and can continue to be, produced without harming the environment. Organic means that the food is completely natural but this doesn't mean that it is always done in a sustainable manner.”
With one being healthy for the environment and the other being healthy for people, Chef Fernando sought to bring the best of both worlds to Artemis Grill, the restaurant that has adorned the rooftop of CapitaGreen since October 2015.
He reveals that the location was an important source of inspiration: “We’re in CapitaGreen and the name of the building says it all. To complement our surroundings, I want to serve food that is natural, healthy and fresh—food that is produce-driven, presented in a simple, relatable manner but with the quality and meticulousness expected of fine dining.”
The taste of respect
As a result, Chef Fernando decided to serve sustainable and organic produce at Artemis Grill, a commitment that he and his team go the extra mile to fulfil.
“From the time we decided on our concept for Artemis Grill, which was about a year ago, we began sourcing. We worked with suppliers in Singapore who understood what we were trying to do, and through their efforts and our own, had the opportunity to meet many producers. Each of them has a great story to tell. Producing food sustainably takes more time, more effort and, in my opinion, more passion. They treat their produce with respect and it’s an honour for me to represent their brands.
“As a chef, I believe it’s my duty to make sure that I know where my products come from. It may be a little harder to source, a little costlier to use, but I know I’m doing the right thing by supporting these producers—and I’m doing the right thing for the customers who trust me to put good food on their plates,” said the culinary maestro who is trained in French and Italian cooking.
For his efforts, customers can be assured that almost all the protein served at Artemis Grill come from sustainable sources. The restaurant also offers a growing list of organic and biodynamic wines to complete the experience.
To cite an example, Chef Fernando points to his Gambero Rosso ($28). The appetiser of blanched shrimp spiced with harissa, an aromatic North African condiment, and served with clear tomato water, has been a hit with patrons since day one.
The freshwater shrimp that Chef Fernando “fell in love with” is sourced from an Italian producer that is a certified ‘Friend of the Sea’. Only 100 or so aquaculture companies in the world have achieved this international certification for sustainable seafood. To do justice to the quality of the produce, the Gambero Rosso at Artemis Grill is prepared simply: “We keep the flavours very fresh and clean, with just a hint of spice so that the natural sweetness of the shrimp is the hero of the dish.”
When prompted for a second recommendation, Chef Fernando picks his Grass Fed Black Angus Tenderloin ($45 for 200g) for being “the most popular dish at the moment”.
“To find this beef, I literally tasted hundreds of samples. Finding grass-fed beef that is as good as this was really difficult,” he said. “It’s from Tasmania, where they have purest water in the world, and is hormone-free, antibiotic-free and free range.”
The dish is “nothing complicated”—just a good, well-grilled cut of meat with a side of potato and onion puree and drizzled with red wine jus that, according to Chef Fernando, is best taken medium rare.
The global livestock industry may be blamed for producing more greenhouse gas emissions than vehicles but Chef Fernando, after conversations with many sustainable producers, has realised that it’s all about choices.
“Some producers are giving the industry a bad name, but let’s not overlook the guys who are doing the right thing,” he said earnestly. For now, awareness of sustainable produce must continue to spread. Because as more people begin to make responsible, informed choices, collectively, we’ll be able to save the future of food, one good-tasting morsel at a time.Artemis Grill