Why Gattopardo's Lino Sauro chooses to work exclusively with ethical suppliers
Sourcing sustainable seafood for Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare is a way for chef Lino Sauro to help safeguard a slice of Sicilian culture.
Seafood has always been the soul and life of South Italy. Born into a traditional farming Italian family in Gangi, Sicily, chef Lino Sauro knows intimately the importance of sustainable farming and fishing as a means of preserving a way of life.
As his restaurant’s name suggests, Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare features a menu that highlights the treasure of the ocean. And for the produce he uses, Sauro makes it a point to source only sustainable seafood from around the world.
“We try as much as we can to source only seasonal ingredients from certified sustainable suppliers,” he told CNA Luxury. One such ingredient is the gambero rosso (red prawn) – the Rolls-Royce of red prawns – from the Giacalone family in Marzara del Vallo city, a Sicilian family-producer that is known for harvesting only gambero rosso for more than a century. Their quantities of red prawns are limited as they’re only allowed to harvest a few months a year. This ensures that a healthy amount of prawns remain in the ocean, and that they can maintain their livelihoods as fishermen – two main tenets of sustainable fishing.
Sauro also highlights Lee Fish from New Zealand, from whom he sources fishes like line-caught wild snapper. He has personally visited their facilities and have observed their fishing practices, thus knowing for certain that they make good on their sustainability promises. He noted, “I have never seen before any fish delivered in my kitchen with the hook still in the mouth! They also control the quota and the type of fish rigorously.”
Closer to home, Sauro works with a supplier-turned-good friend, Bruno, who hails from Lombok, Indonesia. The proximity to Singapore means that Sauro is able to get fresh seafood the very same day it is caught. He expounded, “There is absolutely no overfishing since Bruno sells only what he, on his little boat, catches the same day, with just an immediate text message to all his chef customers in Singapore! I believe this is the most incredible and honest way to respect the sea and the environment.”
The gravity of this sustainability ethos is conveyed to diners through various touch points throughout their dining experience at Gattopardo. Not only does their menu clearly detail which ingredients are sustainably sourced, wait staff are also trained to inform guests about the provenance and seasonality of the produce, the suppliers’ ethical practices, and why the restaurant chooses to work with them. On top of that, Gattopardo’s social media campaigns focus on sustainability topics to help educate and create awareness.
When it comes to taking the sustainability route, Sauro admits that it is easy “when you have spending power”. He mused, “But what about the rest of the world who do not have access to such information, and have no chance to be sustainable due to poor economic policies?” While it might take bigger governmental policies to effect substantial change, Sauro believes that every little effort counts and “even the smallest things we do make a big difference”. “We are slowly asking every supplier we work with to avoid the food delivery in plastic bags or Styrofoam boxes,” he pointed out.
In addition to Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare, Sauro also runs fine dining restaurant Olio at Kensington Street in Sydney, Australia. There, apart from the sustainable seafood, Sauro sources all vegetables from local farmers that are so called imperfect food – organic produce that might not be aesthetically perfect for supermarket shelves, but are no less tasty.