SUS­TAIN­ABLE SUSTENANCE

CHEF DHARSHAN MUNIDASA HAS BEEN PRACTISING SUSTAINABILITY IN HIS RESTAU­RANTS LONG BE­FORE THE TERM BE­CAME AN IN­DUS­TRY BUZZWORD.

Torque (Singapore) - - BMW SPECIAL -

We’ve all heard the term “sustainability”, but what ex­actly does it mean?

Ox­ford Dic­tionar­ies de­fines it as “avoid­ance of the de­ple­tion of nat­u­ral re­sources in or­der to main­tain an eco­log­i­cal bal­ance.”

For most folks, sustainability is a rel­a­tively new con­cept that they are still learn­ing. But for com­pa­nies such as the BMW Group and chefs like Dharshan Munidasa, sustainability is deeply rooted in the way they work.

Dharshan, who hails from Sri Lanka, is his coun­try’s most fa­mous chef and restau­ra­teur. He has five restau­rants that in­clude Ni­hon­bashi and Min­istry of Crab, which have both been listed on Asia’s 50 Best Restau­rants since 2015.

Dharshan talks about sustainability, his plans for a car­bon-neu­tral restau­rant and why the BMW X5 xDrive40e iPer­for­mance is an SUV that suits his needs.

HOW DID YOU END UP BE­COM­ING A CHEF?

I never stud­ied culi­nary arts so it was by ac­ci­dent! As a child, I was quite greedy, so cook­ing was a way for me to feed my­self. When I was a univer­sity stu­dent in the US, the food in the dorms was bad, so I would cook.

How­ever, six months be­fore I grad­u­ated, my fa­ther passed. I re­turned to Sri Lanka and six months later, we opened Ni­hon­bashi.

HOW DO YOU PRACTISE SUSTAINABILITY IN YOUR RESTAU­RANTS?

We don’t im­port ma­jor in­gre­di­ents such as tuna and crab as they are avail­able in Sri Lanka. In fact, the coun­try is one of Ja­pan’s sources of tuna. Min­istry of Crab is not air-con­di­tioned. We don’t buy frozen in­gre­di­ents and we don’t freeze our food.

WHAT DO YOU EN­JOY EAT­ING AT HOME?

I try not to eat any­thing af­ter 6pm. At one point in my life, I weighed over 100kg. I lost most of that weight by re­frain­ing from eat­ing carbs. That said, the most dan­ger­ous part about com­ing to Singapore is that I end up eat­ing too much. I love chicken rice, Hokkien mee and sam­bal stingray.

YOU WANT TO SET UP A RESTAU­RANT THAT SERVES CAR­BON-FREE SEAFOOD. HOW WOULD IT WORK?

The es­tab­lish­ment would source all its seafood from fish­er­men who catch it us­ing sail­boats. So, if we only have 5kg or 10kg of fish for one day, that’s all we will com­mit to cook­ing and serv­ing.

WHY WOULD THIS RESTAU­RANT HAVE AN END-DATE?

Run­ning it would be a lot of work. Also, I don’t think it would make money. But I want to do this to make a state­ment and prove that it can be done.

WHAT MAKES THE BMW X5 xDRIVE40e iPER­FOR­MANCE THE IDEAL CAR FOR YOU?

It’s a big and prac­ti­cal SUV. At the same time, the plug-in petrol-elec­tric hy­brid driv­e­train makes it less ex­pen­sive to run com­pared to reg­u­lar SUVs. I find the BMW X5 xDrive40e iPer­for­mance fun to drive. I also like how the tech­nolo­gies are seam­lessly in­te­grated.

GIVEN THE NA­TURE OF YOUR WORK, WOULD AN ELEC­TRIC VAN BE MORE SUITED TO YOUR NEEDS?

I don’t al­ways have to move boxes, so, no. When choos­ing a car, one must also con­sider aes­thet­ics, re­fine­ment and com­fort in ad­di­tion to per­for­mance!

WOULD AN ELEC­TRIC CAR LIKE THE BMW i3 BE EVEN MORE APPEALING TO YOU, GIVEN YOUR ECO-CONSCIOUS NA­TURE?

Yes. How­ever, the elec­tric­ity used to charge the car must also be gen­er­ated in a clean man­ner.

YOU’RE PLAN­NING TO INSTALL SO­LAR PANELS ON THE ROOF OF MIN­ISTRY OF CRAB. ARE SO­LAR PANELS STILL VERY EX­PEN­SIVE?

Yes, they are still rel­a­tively ex­pen­sive. Min­istry of Crab doesn’t have air-con­di­tion­ing, but we do use a lot of re­frig­er­a­tors and chillers. We use 10 chillers for wine alone. We have to cal­cu­late the load fac­tor and power re­quire­ments to de­ter­mine how many panels we need.

I like the thought of one of Asia’s best restau­rants be­ing so­lar-pow­ered. I am go­ing to install so­lar panels on my house as well!

Dharshan owns a BMW X5 xDrive40e iPer­for­mance (be­low) and would like a BMW i3 (left), but says the elec­tric­ity used to charge it must be gen­er­ated in a clean man­ner.

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