"Eat everything on your plate, or no dessert." Remember that childhood threat?
There you sat, fork poised over the quickly cooling cooked peas. You bargained. You pleaded. You gagged. It was all or nothing.
Now take that model into adulthood, and you're standing at the entrance to Yafu, a Sydney-based Japanese restaurant that tells visitors they'd better polish their plates.
Pinned to the door is a notice which states, among other things, "To contribute toward creating a sustainable future we request a little more of our guests than most other restaurants."
In short: Fail to finish your meal, and you won't be welcomed back.
It's a no-nonsense approach to dining, to be sure. But Chef Yukako Ichikawa isn't budging. She implemented her no-waste model after a rush of first-timers visited her restaurant and left her saddened—and sometimes angry—about the steady flood of leftovers flowing into the trash. She soon wished that the raving restaurant review that brought the newcomers had never been written; she wanted her regulars back, and her regulars only.
Lucky for Sydney diners, Ichikawa's friends talked her out of drastic measures, such as closing the restaurant, and suggested she post a set of rules that would deliver the results she wanted. Hence, the door sign.
Ichikawa is not kidding around. According to restaurant reviews, she's been known to issue a stern and, say the writers, condescending reprimand to diners who over-order. Those who do finish are rewarded with a smile from Ichikawa—and a 30 percent discount.
It's an odd model for someone trying to make a sale, but Ichikawa has a very spiritual and socially-aware relationship with food. She's repulsed by the amount of hunger in a world where there is so much waste. She believes that emotions—including her own negativity—transmit to food. She claims that she doesn't want to feed the kind of people who will waste the food she cooks.
As for the success of her business? Ichikawa's not suffering. She has 300-plus patrons who are willing to lick their plates clean for a chance to come back.
Photo: U-g-g-B-o-y-(-Photograph-World-Sense-)/Creative Commons via Flickr