11 Jul WOK, Bogotá (COL)
Colombian restaurant chain WOK was founded in 1998 by chef Benjamin, after having spent 3 years with a local family on the Thai island of Koh Tao. In addition to introducing Asian food to Colombians, WOK’s mission is to use responsible products as much as possible.
Instead of importing products, WOK uses local Colombian ingredients. All fish that is used in WOK’s dishes, comes from local, small-scale, and artisan fishermen. Many vegetables and herbs are grown in organic agriculture projects, set up by WOK in regions previously hit by internal armed conflicts: the Pacific coast, the southern jungle region of Putumayo, and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in the north.
To increase mutual understanding between restaurant employees and suppliers, WOK invites suppliers to visit the restaurants, and it sends employees to the local projects. This way, fishermen see what happens to their catch, and employees learn where the food they prepare and serve comes from.
The dependance on small-scale suppliers implies that sometimes there is a temporary lack of certain products. It also means that WOK deliberately grows step by step: when opening new restaurants, it rather sets up new local projects for more products, then switching to products coming from conventional (aqua)farming.
Not all of WOK’s suppliers are officially certified. For many of WOK’s small-scale suppliers, the annual rates to obtain an official certification are too expensive. To ensure the quality of the products, WOK visits their projects on a regular base. Also WOK applies short payment terms, to avoid small-scale suppliers getting into cash-flow problems.