3 questions for….

3 questions for….

Ricky Saward Michelin-starred chef at the vegan gourmet restaurant Seven Swans

Ricky Saward, Michelin-starred chef at the vegan gourmet restaurant Seven Swans

“In a few years, the meat-heavy consumer will no longer exist.”

1. Why and when did you decide to cook vegan?

Fifteen years spent processing animal products were the trigger for my change of heart in 2018. If you reflect on how many animals you have actually processed during your career it is very alarming. Especially when you are young, you don’t even think about what you actually have in your hands and are in the process of skinning, fileting, stuffing, pickling, frying or dressing. The thought was always the same: it had to be rare, luxurious/expensive, ostentatious and grotesque. I was fed up with it and visually oversaturated. From a current perspective, it was just product placement without focusing on the skilled craft as such. And yet the craft was the main reason I wanted to become a chef, to use skills and techniques to create something fantastic out of unremarkable raw materials.

2. What’s special about the cuisine at the Seven Swans?

We are breaking almost all the rules of award-winning fine dining. Our patrons sit relatively uncomfortably at small wooden tables and eat from hand-crafted plates. We serve and explain the courses. It is loud and the diners have fun. We joke around and occasionally have a drink with a customer. In the kitchen, we always focus on seasonal, regional vegetables. Nature tells us what to offer. The priority is always sustainability. We take the vegetables apart in every conceivable way, processing the individual parts of the vegetables using a variety of techniques to achieve a level of flavour and texture that our guests do not expect. Sometimes, we add another couple of nuances to the vegetables with some herbs or other vegetables. We achieve the flavour that we generate without using spices because we do not want to change the natural flavour.

3. What do you think of plant-based substitutes? How do you explain their current popularity on the supermarket shelves?

I don’t think much of substitute products. I don’t understand the idea behind using these products when I can consciously opt for a healthy, unprocessed vegetable version. Why does there need to be a vegan schnitzel? It might be understandable as a stopgap for a short time, but not as a permanent solution. At the beginning of the year, I worked with TV channel Arte on the documentary “Free from... – are substitute food products the better alternative?” The subject was substitute products and their ingredients like carrageenan.

We are currently experiencing a development where the reduction, or in some cases renunciation of the consumption of various animal products is unavoidable. At present, we are in a period of generational change. Meat-heavy consumers will no longer exist in a few years. We need to gradually engage with the generation aged in their early 20s to mid-30s and adapt the market accordingly. Otherwise, the retail sector will also be having problems very soon. I believe that substitute products will lose their appeal and their reputation, and it will once again become more interesting to get into your kitchen and cook creatively.


Anna Frede

Anna Frede

Junior PR Consultant | modem conclusa gmbh