Takinoa’s production kitchen in Gland and its restaurant “Le Klee by Takinoa” at the Rolex Learning Center of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne were certified Ecocook Sustainable Restaurants Level 4 in December 2018, demonstrating their commitment with sustainable development.
The “Sustainability unit” and the “Restaurant and retail department” supported Takinoa’s certification because Takinoa’s commitments are aligned with the sustainability strategy that EPFL wishes to develop for their catering services on campus.
Discover here the testimonial of Mr. Eric Lebel, founder of Takinoa SA, and Mrs. Aurore Nembrini, Sustainability Manager at the sustainability unit of EPFL.
1. Could you tell us something about yourself, your background?
«Takinoa, Foof for Joy, is 40 years of reflection on food and nutrition. I started my professional activity in the 80s, when I used to sell fries and Coca Cola! In recent years, awareness of the major issues relating to agricultural methods, and more generally the effects of food and nutrition on health, has become increasingly important. The harmful aspects of fast sugars, bad fats and fries become « main stream ».
You can find more information on our website www.takinoa.com and on our Facebook and Instagram page.
On the private side, we are a sibling of 6, 2 of whom are diabetic. In addition, my mother lived for a long time with a cancer. She died in 2002. I read a lot about nutrition and at the same time, professionally I was linked to a doctor. The subject started to fascinate me.
These preoccupations led me to found Takinoa in 2013. The company’s values are: health, joy, trust and kaizen. Its mission is to develop tasty, healthy and eco-friendly beverages and drinks, applying the best nutrition practices and collaborating passionately with our customers, teams and partners.
By combining the “taki” prefix which evokes an idea of speed (taki comes from ancient Greek, takhys that means fast) with the suffix “no” which gives an idea of absence and non-existence, Takinoa evokes the absence of speed, essential in our hectic lifestyles.»
«I have a background in environmental engineering from l’EPFL, which I completed with a business administration course related to corporate social responsibility. The goal of this last training was to understand how companies work, and especially to try to change them from the inside. I have always been involved in environmental issues, and I have worked with NGOs.
Today, in the sustainability unit of EPFL, our mission is to integrate this environmental and social responsibility into all decisions, especially in purchasing. We try to bring sustainability standards along the entire supply chain, from suppliers to subcontractors.
I’m in charge of the environmental management of the campus and responsible for the food and waste themes, with regard to sustainability.»
2. How many employees do you have today? And points of sale?
« We are 30-40 employees, with a kitchen unit where we cook fresh, additives-free, and with primarily local, seasonal and organic products. We have points of sale with different sizes, in Lausanne (Grand-Pont and EPFL), Nyon, in the Fnac of Geneva, at the Nant Street in the Eaux-Vives district in Geneva, and at the Cornavin station, in Geneva, that we open early April. We are very interested about digital communication to reach private and business.»
«On our side, the EPFL is about 11’000 students, 5’000 collaborators, and 33 points of restoration. »
3. Mr Lebel, what developments have you seen over the years in terms of the eating habits of your customers and consumers?
«There is a dissociation in people’s heads. There are all those who are aware, for whom nutrition is a first medicine, such as our ambassador Diego Pazos, a great athlete marathoner who is almost vegetarian. They are very conscious people, and the diet is part of their well-being and life process. And at the other extreme, we find people who are culturally or socially unaware of the harms of unhealthy diet on their health as well as to the planet.»
4. Mrs Nembrini, what developments have you seen over the years in terms of interest in sustainable development?
«Climate concerns are becoming more important. Awareness of the environmental impacts of food is relatively new. The media are also beginning to give more importance to this issue.Our unit launched the Act for Change Food awareness campaign in November 2018 to raise awareness of these issues in the EPFL community. The number of vegetarian dishes sold in the campus has doubled but is still relatively low (10% compared to 5% in previous years).Young protesting today will soon arrive to the campus with higher demands. And they will wish to eat better.
For the sustainability unit of EPFL, food is now one of the main priority areas of action. The arrival of a new Restaurant and Catering Manager to the campus will be an opportunity to integrate these new preoccupations into our strategies.»
«I can see what do you mean. As an example, our main dish is quinoa salad and spiruline. It has everything to get to work the brain well, with the right nutrients to have optimal intellectual results. It’s perfect for a student.»
« The Unil restoration inquiry, shows that the number of people following a specific diet is increasing.»
5. Why are you concerned about sustainability?
«I realized that to encourage vegetables consumption, we will no longer be able to serve shrimp. We will have to explain what is a complementation, an association of a legume and a cereal such as rice with lentils ; the basis of the Indian diet!»
«I have always been aware of the environmental and social impacts on nature and biodiversity. The trigger for choosing my studies in the environment was a trip to the Sahel during my adolescence. Currently, this concern is part of the heart of my job and personal commitments. It is urgent to take action!»
6. Why did you choose Ecocook?
«Firstly because Ecoocook is doing a good job, and secondly because EPFL has been supporting Takinoa. In union there is strength!»
«I am convinced that it is a relevant approach to propose to restaurateurs because it is global. It covers the environmental impacts as a whole (food, waste, water, energy, etc.). We have found with Takinoa the right partner to run a pilot project and I think there may be other restaurants interested in the program.»
7. How did you experience this implementation, in terms of organization and time spent?
«Very well. It was a busy time because of other projects that were taking place at the same time, and we did not have to do a lot of work. It is rather the consultants of Biolia who prepared the file.
- I enjoyed the exchanges, the openness to more critical aspects.
- I really liked the dialogue, which facilitated decisions and resolutions.
- I observed the constructive participation of all the collaborators, from the waste manager to the responsible for energy & water, etc. They are very motivated and engaged in the process of improvement.
- I also noticed an awareness of environmental impacts from the food service department.»
8. Have there been challenges to face and how have they been treated?
«Despite the complexity of the collaboration due to the many participants and managers either from the Takinoa side (production kitchen in Gland and kitchen on site staff and managers) as well as from the EPFL side (infrastructure, waste energy & water department’s staff and managers), everything went very well. What is interesting is mainly the process to achieve the certification and the dialogue with Takinoa Managers to establish improvement commitments about objectives to be achieved after the certification.»
9. How do you think your customers will perceive that you are certified Ecocook Sustainable Restaurant?
«We are proud to be not only the first restaurant from the entire EPFL campus to obtain the « Ecocook Sustainable Restaurant Certification», but also to have obtained the level 4, the highest level, and we expect positive feedback of course.»
«The certification recognizes current sustainable best practices as well as continuous improvement commitments. This is the most important message we want students to understand. Even if Takinoa is certified level 4, there are possible improvements that will be put in place. For example, in terms of waste, Takinoa is committed to replacing all disposable packaging with reusable packaging by 2021.»
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