21 Nov

Kétker-Étkem – meals on two wheels

Who of us hasn’t had days when we didn’t want or couldn’t go to a restaurant, didn’t have time to cook, but we wished to eat something delicious at work or at home?

If we conduct an opinion poll about which dietary habits have the largest environmental burden, it is almost certain, lunch delivery would stand on the top of the list. Ordered food is often transfered by car – when nobody else called nearby, it comes only to you – and packed in lots of disposable plastic containers. Based on this fact, from an environmental point of view we can say that food ordering should be discouraged….but in Budapest there is a brave girl, called Bori, who’s fantasy is delivering her delicate meals in an environmentally friendly way.

ketker_7„Everything started with a bowl of lecso (thick vegetable ragout) for friends, 5 portions. They perked up their heads one late summer night when I told them I was going to make lots and lots of lecso the next day. It was delicious! They asked me if I’d like to do it regularly. I wanted to, indeed!”

I met Bori for the first time during a corporate event where she was advertising her home-made cheese scones and Kétker-Étkem (Meals on to Two Wheels) service. I immediately noticed her genial and natural style, and I got to know her as someone that doesn’t act like she does something unique, and she doesn’t look at herself as a weirdo. The whole thing comes natural to her.

Let’s see how Bori and her crew defined sustainable meal delivery. First, they had to solve transportation. ketker_1They asked enthusiastic cyclists – so their only fuel input is food. Thereafter, the food containers had to be recyclable in some way. Simple solution: every customer has to purchase a plastic container with the first order (paying a deposit), than with every delivery they can exchange the old ones for a box full of their next warm lunch. We thought it was genius! The system, of course, works well if the customers cooperate and hand back the containers. That way, the two biggest prejudices – waste and transportation – could be refuted, and we can get to a level where we feel like we are in a restaurant. Our only assignment is to enjoy the food-preparing method.

ketker_4For the Kétker-Étkem team it’s vital to maintain an environmentally concious cuisine. Bori and I were chatting over drinks a few days ago and we talked about the difficulties of environmental conciousness and professional catering. Finding the right method is not enough, it has to correspond to the public health regulations. The most controlled areas are food storaging and cleaning/rinsing, so big improvements for saving resources cannot be made. As Bori said, the greatest opportunities are in waste reduction and recycling, because the catering industry reproduces a huge amount of waste; and it’s every restaurant’s responsibility to decrease this amount. Other than that, Bori’s crew is trying to use local and seasonal ingredients. Every day there is one vegetarian and one meat/fish meal among the main courses, that we can supplement with variable soup and dessert selections. The planned menus are posted on Facebook and on their website in advace and it’s also shared with „followers”.

ketker_2The menu is always diverse. My personal Kétker-Étker favourite is stuffed tomato with bulgur. The lunch has to be ordered at noon the day before, to produce minimal surplus during shopping and cooking. Unfortunately, we can’t appease our apetite immadiately, but sustainability requires forethought.

Bori and her guys believe in personal relationships, and nothing proves this better than this: she remembers all the names of my previous co-workers, who currently order food from her. I also know the delivery guys always have a nice word for every customer when they deliver food.

This is the best alternative for busy or lazy, but green orientated Budapestians!

Originally posted: Jan 26th, 2012

A million thanks to Magdi Németh for translating the original article!