Urbanologi: Joburg’s gastronomic hub

Posted by Imogen Searra on 13 February 2019

Located inside Joburg’s award-winning Mad Giant brewery in the 1 Fox Precint in the CBD of Ferreirasdorp, Joburg, Urbanologi has made a major move in its quest to move towards sustainability and elevated its strategy for sourcing ingredients. Project 150 is the restaurant’s new culinary mantra that ensures all ingredients, excepting spices, are sourced within 150km from the eatery.

‘Project 150 reforms how we think about farming and food,’ says Urbanologi chef Jack Coetzee, who is heading up the initiative. ‘Is Johannesburg ready for it? I certainly hope so. I know one thing for sure, it is disruptive and certainly in a good way.’

Project 150 was inspired by a desire to lend vigour to the wave of conscious living and sustainable practices around food, as well as to pursue culinary excellence. ‘Most of the food served is unsustainable,’ says Coetzee. ‘We transport fish and meat thousands of kilometres to reach the plate for the sake of demand.’

According to the chef, unsustainability in food delivery is due to two things. The first is that convenience and a lack of creativity means menus aren’t changing regularly or even at all. The second is ‘commercialisation of food’, which means much of our food is quick to cook and cheap to make, but often contains very little nutrition. ‘To solve this problem, we need to embrace our local produce – the very stuff that makes our little corner of the globe interesting,’ Coetzee says.

The reason Urbanologi chose to source produce for its dishes from within a 150km radius year-round is that it that keeps the menu exciting, and the area is close enough for people to relate to. It also helps to get the message of sustainability across. ‘I’d like to see Johannesburg become the food hub of Africa and to develop a style of cuisine that inspires creativity; for the patrons to both encourage this process as well as enjoy an elevated dining experience without being ripped off.’

The new menu encompasses six categories that align with the slow food idea to build relationships with suppliers: Butcher, Baker, Brewer, Fishmonger, Green Grocer and Dairy. It includes the distance in kilometres that food travelled to get to the table, putting a pin on a map of where the ingredients in the dish have comes from.

The eatery has increased its focus on exceptional produce, with the advantage of sourcing fresh from the ‘farmer, breeder and vegetable whisperers’ on its doorstep. Many might think the choice of ingredients will be limited, but this isn’t so. To show how diverse and rich the produce around Joburg is, Urbanologi has launched a social media campaign, posting a new, locally-sourced ingredient it uses every day for 150 days.

Urbanologi is open Mondays to Saturdays for lunch and dinner, and for lunch only on Sundays. For more information and reservations visit www.urbanologi.co.za, send an email to [email protected] or call 011 492 1399.

Image: Supplied



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