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Zero waste restaurant in Berlin

Zero Waste: Happa Restaurant Berlin

For some time I've been looking forward to the opening of the HAPPA restaurant in Berlin, because Sophia Hoffmann's recipes have been with me for a long time. In the meantime, she has not only published four vegan cookbooks, but also stands for maximum food appreciation and is committed to more sustainability - ecological, economic and social - in gastronomy. For a good six months she has had her first restaurant together with Nina Petersen (on the right in the picture).

From Monday to Thursday, the team offers an affordable and varied lunch menu with two main courses, a soup, a side salad and freshly baked cake. In good weather you can sit outside under tomato-red umbrellas. On Thursdays and/or Fridays there are additional dinner events with a five-course menu, for which tickets can be purchased in advance for better planning. 

Sophia Hoffman and Nina Petersen
Happa vegan restaurant in Berlin

Certified organic, vegan and incredibly delicious

At XNUMX p.m. sharp, all the guests come into the restaurant and have a lively chat. On entering, brightly painted walls shine brightly at us, relaxed music sounds discreetly from the speakers and you are literally standing in the open kitchen, in which the well-rehearsed gastronomy team whirls around in a good mood. In the dining room, which is divided into two, there are beautiful wooden tables with small vases decorated with meadow flowers and impressive black-and-white portraits on the walls (more on that later). After a first flowery aperitif - I decided on the non-alcoholic accompaniment - the two managing directors present their concept and tell something about the dishes of the evening. The anticipation increases and is surpassed with the first course. Suddenly it goes very quiet in the previously busy dining room - all guests enjoy the homemade focaccia, the delicious labneh (cream cheese from the Levantine cuisine) made from soy milk with cucumber dust and chilli-garlic oil. You look at the happy faces at the next tables and nod knowingly.

homemade focaccia

Food waste in Germany starts in the field

The two business partners have been working on their concept for a long time, which is well thought out. The restaurant is not only completely barrier-free, but has also been certified organic since the beginning of the year. Cooperation with cross field, which save non-standard organic food, has already saved over 1200 kilos of food from waste since the restaurant opened. This corresponds to the recommended five-year consumption of an adult. In Germany, an average of around thirty percent of the harvest is sorted out before it is sold. A total of eighteen million tons of food are thrown away every year. And since the number is as huge as it is abstract, you can read from Querfeld that that's one truckload per minute. As depressing as that may sound at first, it is important that more and more restaurants, supermarkets, consumers and politicians finally take the issue seriously and hopefully more and more people will fight against this waste.


Zero Waste is not only possible in gastronomy - entire hotels, such as the Green Phoenica in Lübeck, are also committed to the Zero Waste philosophy

Zero waste menu

Sophia and Nina also got to know each other at a campaign against food waste and immediately found their common heart topic. Incidentally, the cucumber dust comes from crooked cucumbers and saved bread encases the curd dumplings. Sophia Hoffmann, who was socialized in culinary terms in Munich and Vienna, also likes to cook hearty dishes such as Carinthian Kasnudeln with roasted breadcrumbs, but of course Mediterranean influences and spices also play a major role.

homemade tortellini

Green radishes, crooked cucumbers and rescued bread – this is what the menu of the future will look like

The second course of white beans and preserved salted lemons is just as delicious as the following homemade ravioli with radish greens, radishes, green leek oil and cashew parmesan. The cauliflower trio with grilled leaves and cauliflower crunch on cauliflower puree is something of the chef's signature dish. We guests learn that you can really eat anything from cauliflower and how incredibly versatile this local vegetable is.

Cauliflower is the vegan's chicken

– Sophia Hoffman

Vegan ravioli

Finale with filter coffee from the farmers' collective

For dessert I treat myself to a filter coffee made by a Coffee farmers collective in Rwanda is obtained. Because the women sell their coffee directly instead of trading it through bulk buyers on the world market, they make more than thirty percent more sales. The aforementioned pictures on the walls portray these coffee farmers and are supplemented with quotes explaining why the collective is so important to them and what has changed for them personally since then. Above all, financial independence and more self-confidence, they all say. Sustainability really starts with the smallest coffee bean. Incidentally, a so-called portafilter machine for espresso and cappuccino was also deliberately omitted, as Nina explains when asked by some guests, because it not only uses a lot of energy and water, but also needs its own connection and would simply have taken up too much space. It's amazing that people cook in such a relaxed manner in this small kitchen. When asked how it works, everyone laughs and says in unison that you must really like each other.

Deliberately only women work here in the service. You can see how they all try what they have cooked themselves between courses and how they talk intensively about it. Sophia explains that every time they change the menu, which happens every two to three months, they still adjust the wine pairing and the proportions of the dishes together.

The team from the vegan zero waste restaurant in Berlin

The beautiful evening is coming to an end and if you want, you can still buy signed books or some of the cook's favorite products such as tahini (sesame paste), apple and horseradish mustard or coffee. Today there is even a piece of cinnamon apple crumble to take away, which is left over from the lunch table and of course is not thrown away. Finally, all guests say goodbye to the cozy restaurant with a heavy heart. Like after a nice evening with friends, when you get stuck in the door frame when you go out and continue talking about the successful meal and seeing you again soon. Good "Happa" - as small children already know - simply makes people happy and connects.

Recipe by Sophia Hoffman
© Photos: Zoe Spawton

Geraldine works as a freelance writer for Good Travel and has just completed training as a sustainability manager. After twenty exciting years in film, she now devotes herself full-time to her other passions - travel, food and design.



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