Sustainable food at the Dome of Visions

Good service and good food are an important part of an inspiring meeting experience. Chalmers Conference & Restaurants manages reservations for the Dome of Visions’ conference premises and prepares all the food served in the Dome. We sat down with CEO Marcus Danielsson and Executive Head Chef Stefan Wärmell to talk about sustainability and the ways in which sustainable meals are a social responsibility.

Perhaps you could start by introducing yourselves in a little more detail, and what you have in common?

Marcus Danielsson: I’m the CEO of the company*, working closely with operations and, above all, our customers. I’ve been working for the company for eight years.

Stefan Wärmell: I’ve been Executive Head Chef of Chalmers Conference & Restaurants for four years. Being the Executive Head Chef means being responsible for all of the kitchens and the daily production we carry out in our units. It’s also my responsibility to organize purchasing and sustainability activities, as they are a natural part of production.

What we have in common is a burning interest in gastronomy and sustainability, which we believe is catching on among our employees.

What does sustainability mean for you both?

Conscious choices and consideration regarding all purchases, as long as it is economically defensible. Many miss the economic sustainability aspect, and as we purchase enormous volumes, this is an important thing to take into account. Sustainability also concerns control over the products’ origin and impact and over potential recycling and sorted waste.

It says on your website that “sustainable meals are a social responsibility.” What makes a meal sustainable?

It’s finding the common thread between climate impact, biodiversity, organic and locally produced raw materials, transportation, pesticides, antibiotics, social aspects and finances. It’s not easy, but if you choose to focus on some of these areas, you’ve come a long way. We also see it as our responsibility to visualize for the guests eating our meals how their choices influence emissions.

You have created a unique menu for the Dome of Visions’ conference guests. Could you talk more about that?

We have a relatively small but flexible and open menu in order to really focus on fresh ingredients that not only maintain their quality but are also a good environmental choice based on our environmental values. We want to be able to change the menu quickly depending on the plants, fruits and herbs we can use for the day that are grown in the Dome of Visions. Many of our guests will be returning guests, but with different sustainable themes at their meetings, which also means we have to be flexible and variable. People should feel curious, and sometimes be surprised, when they meet at the Dome of Visions!

The Dome of Visions wants to stir up thoughts and debate about a sustainable future. How have the catchwords at the Dome of Visions inspired you in your choice of menus?

First and foremost, and probably simplest: We have consciously removed the products and ingredients that have the greatest environmental impact. There are so many good quality sustainable products today, so we see no reason to serve something that has a major environmental impact. We work in an industry where our guests often expect us to offer a broad selection of products, but also where we have the ability to create unique products for special occasions. We can offer all this, but we also offer knowledge and information about our products — people should see us as advisers in that sense. By climate certifying our products through having calculated CO2 emissions, we want to help our guests make the right choice and over the long term to promote a change in the choice of consumption through knowledge and information.

It says on the Chalmers University of Technology website that it “conducts research and offers education in technology, science, architecture and maritime engineering, making an impact for a sustainable future.” What are your visions for the future?

Chalmers Conference & Restaurants wants to be, and is, on the leading edge as regards direct and indirect impact in our industry. It is our proximity to the research being conducted at Chalmers that makes it particularly motivating – together with the University, we will get answers to certain sustainability-related problems. We want knowledge of why one choice is better than another from a sustainability perspective. This applies to areas lacking reliable studies that form the basis for decisions, and where people currently often respond differently regarding what is best for the environment. We believe this provides us with an additional advantage in our industry.

Finally: What are your three best tips for living more sustainably?

  1. Environmental compensation — if you eat animal proteins today, you can choose to eat vegetable proteins tomorrow.
  2. Buy ingredients in season, and don’t buy more than what you will eat.
  3. Recycle — bring an empty plastic bag with you next time you go out into the countryside or to the beach. It will almost certainly be full of plastic you’ve found when you go back home. “Plogging” – it’s probably a fad that’s here to stay!
* The company, Chalmers Conference & Restaurants, is two independent limited liability companies tasked with developing and creating conditions for meetings at Chalmers University of Technology’s two campuses, Johanneberg and Lindholmen. The operation consists of 23 units, including conference facilities, restaurants, reception desks and cafés. We are part of the Chalmers Student Union Business Group, which is owned and operated by the Chalmers Student Union. Short and sweet: we’re owned by the students!

Top image: Stefan Wärmell, Executive Head Chef of Chalmers Conference Photo: Chalmers Conference & Restaurants.

Illustration: Kranmärkt

The Dome of Visions has earned the “Kranmärkt” label!

Businesses and events with the “Kranmärkt” label are free from bottled water, offering only tap water. Healthy and sustainable, without transport and waste.

The “Kranmärkt” label shows that a business is taking a stand for a better environment and inspiring others to choose tap water as well.