At CCT Venues, we’re passionate about food. So when Operations Director James Russ had a chance to join a Culinary Study Tour of five of our fellow IACC (International Association of Conference Centres) member-venues in Sweden recently, he – and we – jumped at the chance.
But while the cuisine was impressive, it wasn’t the only thing that James found inspiring. The commitment to sustainability and environmentally-aware practices at each location left him determined to introduce similar ideas back here in London.
Here James shares his highlights…
Day one: Sigtuna
At our first destination, the Hotell Kristina, teams were absolutely committed to putting sustainability at the heart of the business. This was evident in their approach to food, where they use ‘nose to tail’ cooking. It’s an ethos which means every part of an animal’s carcass is put to use. A broker helps source misshapen vegetables and produce with damaged packaging. Some customers would reject these but of course there’s nothing wrong with them and the ingredients taste every bit as good as perfectly formed produce when it’s ready to eat.
We were fascinated to learn that this healthy attitude to avoiding waste extended even further than we could have imagined. Preserved fish skins were used in food, and also in clothing. We met a woman proudly wearing a fish skin waistcoat at the venue.
At our second stop, The Boathouse, the focus was firmly on high-end Swedish cuisine. On the menu was an array of beautifully presented traditional options, from raw fish to pickles, breads and cheeses. This, combined with a stunning view of the waterfront, made for a very special dining experience.
The last location on our itinerary for Sigtuna was the very impressive Sigtunaholden. Nestled in a forest, this venue grows much of its own food, and chefs enjoy foraging for ingredients and incorporating seasonal produce into the menu. Guests also help out with preparing dishes and mixing cocktails – an approach which creates a wonderful rapport with visitors.
Sigtunaholden is almost entirely plastic-free, and very hot on recycling. Unusually, the venue is also paper-free when it comes to registration. Staff (who wear uniforms made from old curtains!) don’t sit behind a reception desk. Instead they act as welcoming hosts in open areas. It gives the place a very friendly atmosphere.
Day two: Stockholm
Högberga Gård was the first venue we visited in Stockholm. This converted villa is owned by one of the richest residents in Sweden, and it certainly has a luxurious feel – right down to the private hot tub meeting room!
Staff here also prepare the venue’s delicious home-made wine, using grapes imported from Tuscany.
The last stop on our agenda was Rönneberga Konferens. At this large conference centre the culinary focus was around vegetarian and fish options, and whole foods. Meat very much takes second place.
All waste and recycling is contracted out to ethical businesses here, and teams have removed plastic pens from conference rooms.
It was a fascinating experience to visit Sweden – a country so steeped in innovative cuisine and a fresh approach to preserving the environment. At CCT Venues I know we’re always exploring ways to improve our own approach to sustainability and I’m excited to see how the smart thinking I saw in Sweden could help shape our business in the future.