One of Joburg’s trendiest inner-city eateries, Urbanologi, has taken its commitment to local and seasonal produce to the next level, with the launch of a new menu concept that sees all produce sourced from within a 150km radius from the restaurant.
Dubbed Project 150, the concept is the brainchild of chef Jack Coetzee, who took over the reins at Urbanologi two years ago. Jack’s passion for implementing a culture of ethical eating, locality, seasonality and sustainability started with heroing in-season produce on his menus during his first year and embracing a zero-waste philosophy the next. Now entering his third year, Jack is upping the ante with Project 150 – a challenge to source all produce (excluding spices) from suppliers no more than 150km away from the restaurant. Speaking of the initiative, he says, “Project 150 reforms how we think about farming and food. Most of the food served (in the city) is unsustainable. We transport fish and meat thousands of kilometers to reach the plate for the sake of demand.”
The chef set out to find farmers within his set parameters, a distance he explains as being close enough for people to relate to and get the message across, yet far enough to get a wide range of produce year-round and keep the menu interesting.
The new menu celebrates each supplier, with the usual headings replaced with words like ‘Butcher’, ‘Greengrocer’, ‘Fishmonger’ and ‘Dairy. Also included is the distance from the relevant producer to your table.
The duck, for instance, is sourced a mere 62km away from Delmar, while the dairy is even closer at only 42.1km away in Suikerbosrand. Perhaps the most interesting, though, is the fish. Fed up with using fish flown in from halfway across the world, Jack found a Joburg-based aquaponic farm that uses fish to fertilise the water.
Dishes on the new menu include the likes of grilled asparagus with shiitake mushrooms (grown in specially purposed tunnels in the East Rand) with a generous covering of eight-month matured goat gouda; and duck breast cooked with rhubarb-and-beetroot compote and enoki mushrooms. The fresh trout is served as sashimi with sesame oil, chilli and ginger. The menu will remain a small-plate offering.
Keep an eye on Urbanologi’s Instagram page and website, where they’ll be showcasing 150 of the products sourced within their 150km radius over the next 150 days.