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july 02, 2021 - BMW

“Chef of the Century” Eckart Witzigmann turns 80

BMW Group congratulates Eckart Witzigmann on his birthday +++ Symposium “What does sustainability taste like?“ online available +++ ECKART 2021 awarded to a pioneering project

Munich. The BMW Group and „Chef of the Century” Eckart Witzigmann have been allied in their shared commitment to the art of cooking, deliberate consumption and social responsibility for a long time. This year, the BMW Group will honour its companion of many years on the occasion of his important anniversary and present the jubilarian with a unusual gift – a ECKART Symposium. Following the theme “What does sustainability taste like?“ a series of several panel debates featuring first-class experts will focus on important questions of our time. 

Ilka Horstmeier, Member of the Board of Management at BMW AG, Human Resources and Labour Relations Director, commented on the special anniversary, „Happy birthday, dear Mr Witzigmann! Our symposium is just a little token of our appreciation to mark our long-standing partnership. From its inception, we have kept in mind our common goal, namely the promotion of healthy eating, sustainable culinary art and responsible use of resources and continue to work towards it to this day. Good, healthy food that is produced and prepared in a sustainable manner is one of the greatest challenges of our time. A challenge that reflects how we at the BMW Group understand and live sustainability. New impulses are key to company catering and fine dining alike. Hand in hand, we are developing and promoting ideas to ensure real change. I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to Mr Witzigmann for his continued commitment to the cause.” 

Hosted by Dr Christoph Wirtz, editor in chief at restaurant guide Gault&Millau Germany, the very first interdisciplinary round table on quality and sustainability will be a platform for debate welcoming participants head of human resources Ilka Horstmeier, Norbert Niederkofler, winner of the ECKART 2020 for innovation and Steffi Czerny, CEO DLD Media GmbH. “Quality” has an interesting double meaning. Used in its literal sense, the term denotes the sum of all qualities of any given product. As users, however, we tend to interpret the term as having a value and attach it to upmarket and premium products. If we furthermore combine the term “quality” with the idea of sustainability, we also bring into question its origin, the way it was produced and the social conditions surrounding its production, its transport and sale as well as its final use and processing. The same is true for food products and vehicles and even digital products. At the roundtable, the participants will explore at what point food and other products can be considered sustainable and what exactly that implies. And if sustainability is to be understood as the basis of new, circular business activities, there is a need to develop new business models. 

In the next panel Martin Straubinger, head of BMW Group Company Catering, Barbara Jung-Arntz, journalist, and Jürgen Mäder, CEO Edeka Südwest, will debate a range of issues including transport routes, distribution, quality and cost of our food. Mr Straubinger said, “In line with our overall strategy regarding sustainability at the BMW Group, the department of company catering is a proactive agent in the process and continuously improves its relevant practices. To that end, we routinely examine all processes such as the local sourcing of products, animal welfare, the optimisation of delivery routes and the use of sustainable materials as well as the reduction and prevention of waste. No small feat, keeping in mind the enormous number of meals – 42,000 – that cross our counters every day at the various BMW locations in both Germany and Austria.” 

The third panel will feature Jürgen Molter, head of catering at the BMW sites in Dingolfing, Regensburg, Landshut and Steyr, Nathalie Leblond, head chef at restaurant “Les Deux”, Dr Stefan Hartmann, president of the German Institute of Company Catering (DIG) and Patrick Auer, head of company catering at the Bavarian Association of Insurers debating the similarities and differences of fine dining and company catering. What expectations do they need to meet respectively and what can the two disciplines learn from each other? At the end of the day, fine dining is most appreciated where people make the choice of eating both healthy and well and where most meals cross the counter – at staff canteens. 

Further information in the press release to download