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Empire Room gourmet takeaways to aid Kent coast

Empire Room gourmet takeaways to aid Kent coast


The critically acclaimed Empire Room restaurant at the Royal Harbour Hotel in Ramsgate in Kent, has announced a Tiffin Club takeaway scheme, aimed at reducing marine plastic pollution. The takeaway Tiffin Club service for local residents will launch in the New Year.

As an alternative to single use plastic containers, multi-use tiffin tins are widely used in India. They usually consist of a tower of three or four interlocking steel containers, which clamp together with a carry handle.

Explaining the decision for his archetypal British restaurant, serving seasonal menus of locally sourced ingredients, to use containers from the Indian subcontinent, hotelier James Thomas said,” I was attending a wedding in India recently and thought tiffins would be ideal solution for delivering hot meals to guests in the hotel’s 27 bedrooms.”

James Thomas began his career in hospitality, working for London’s top hotels – The Savoy, Claridge’s and The Berkeley. The traditional form of trolley-based room service practiced in these 5-star venues, reliant on roomy lifts and wide corridors, is not an option in the rambling, 5-storeys of the boutique Royal Harbour Hotel, set in three Georgian terrace houses.

Tiffin tins are perfect logistically, for both room service and takeaway orders.

“Regulars to the Empire Room, disillusioned with the standards of typical fast food takeaways, have expressed an interest in options with higher culinary aspirations, like those available in London – and using tiffins is logical and environmentally friendly,” said Thomas.

“I was moved by David Attenborough’s excellent Deep Blue BBC II TV documentary series, showing the damage plastics cause to the environment, and decide we should be making a contribution to the health of our seas.

Guests at the Royal Harbour Hotel regularly take sea safaris to see a local seal colony, basking on sandbanks at low tide in a national nature reserve.
The Empire Room’s Michelin-trained head chef, Craig Mather, expects his gourmet tiffin takeaway menus, costing around 25 per cent less than dining in the cosy, club-like, 40-cover restaurant, to be especially popular for dinner parties.

Members of the Empire room’s Tiffin Club scheme will pay a nominal fee, which includes a deposit on the tiffin tins and a £5 donation to an environmental group committed to removing plastic waste from Thanet’s 7-Blue Flag beaches. Customers simply wash and swap the tins with their next takeaway.

“Because of the Empire Room’s theme – recalling days’ of the Raj, the fact that we overlook the sea and are dependent on locally landed, sustainable seafood – an ecologically sound Tiffin Club, aimed at protecting marine life, makes perfect sense,” said Craig.

Mather is also considering offering a small, optional donation of 25p for marine conservation, matched by the restaurant, in the price of each tiffin takeaway order.

To launch the Club, the restaurant is looking to host a charity fund-raising dinner in aid of marine conservation and will be donating £5 Tiffin Club meal vouchers to Thanet Coast Project volunteers taking part in their annual ‘Beachwatch clean up, as part of the Great British Beach Clean. Details at www.thanetcoast.org.uk/how-to-help/beach-cleans.

The restaurant is backing Chancellor Philip Hammond’s intention of introducing a levy on single-use plastics to tackle an issue which Greenpeace has deemed "a global emergency". The 5p tax on plastic carrier bags has been sufficient to cut their usage by 85%.

Tiffins are ubiquitous in Indian cities and at railway stations along the country’s 40,000 miles of tracks. India has one of the longest rail networks in the world. The introduction of the railways by the British during colonial times, saw the advent of ‘Railway’ mutton and chicken’ dishes served in tiffins. The dishes can still be found on some UK curry house menus today.


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