I am currently already trying to cook vegan two or three times a week. It is important to me to get by without meat substitutes as much as possible.

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Daria has been managing the canteen at STRABAG headquarters in Vienna since 2014. In this interview, she reveals what's important in meat-free cuisine and why she doesn't like Fridays.

Sustainable canteen
Meatless alternatives
CO2 saved:
6.457 kilogram per year

What is the most popular meatless dish in the canteen?

Lasagna with lots of cheese and spinach dumplings with mozzarella and tomato sauce always go well. Our various curries with coconut milk are also very popular - these are even vegan. Generally, the vegetarian or vegan dishes run out first - and that's despite the fact that there is usually only one meat dish, but two meatless alternatives.

Is it a goal of yours to increase the number of vegan options in the future?

Basically, yes, because demand is also increasing. I'm already trying to cook vegan meals two or three times a week. On Mondays, for example, we've had a vegan low carb dish on the menu for two years. After the hearty weekend, that is very welcome. It's important to me to do without meat substitutes as much as possible. But you have to make sure that people eat enough and get all the nutrients they need. I rely on lots of vegetables, legumes and nuts. And of course, taste must not be neglected - that's why we use more than 50 spices in our cooking.

What else do you do for sustainability in the kitchen?

A lot - we buy and cook regionally and seasonally, all our food comes from the surrounding area. In addition, we cook fresh every day and don't use any convenience products, and we produce as little waste as possible. The waste that does occur is strictly separated. It is also very important to me that no food is thrown away - waste makes me nervous. Vegetables scraps are used in sauces and soups, for example.
If there is any food left over, we donate it to a facility for homeless people. Starting at 1:30 pm our lunch dishes are  available for half-price takeout. I encourage everyone to bring their own containers so that no trash is produced here either. I offer take-away packaging made from cornstarch, just in case.

What excites you most about your job?

When the plates are empty - that's the best part for me. I love my job and am very grateful that I am allowed to work here and that I have such nice customers and colleagues. After my design studies, I discovered my love of cooking and, at the age of 25, completed an apprenticeship as a chef. A few years ago, I also completed an apprenticeship as a pastry chef. It's very important to me to keep learning and to get to know new techniques.

  • On Sunday, I'm already looking forward to going back to work the next day.

What's your secret recipe against the "Monday morning" blues?

I love Mondays! I'm sad on Friday when I have to go home for two days. On Sunday, I'm looking forward to going back to work all afternoon. When you're doing what you love, the day of the week doesn't matter!

#iworkonprogress Video Daria, Chef