27. December 2021

SEVEN SWANS, Frankfurt

Pioneering vegan cuisine with food from the in-house permaculture.

Head chef Ricky Saward at Seven Swans

The Seven Swans in Frankfurt is the first vegan starred restaurant in the world!!!

Recently awarded by "Rolling Pin Magazin" for the "Gastronomy Concept of the Year" and currently in 35th place in the 100 BestChefs Germany.


I caught up with Executive Chef Ricky Saward and spoke to him about his early days at Seven Swans, what drives him every day and how "crazy" you must be to cook at star level while completely refraining from animal products.

You describe yourselves as 'experimental laboratories of yourselves'. What do you mean with that?

Ricky Saward

Ricky: Seven Swans has been around for 10 years and I've been on board since 2018. Since then, I and we as a team have always tried out a lot. In the beginning I had to learn an awful lot about purely vegetarian cuisine - it was still pretty much new territory for me at the time. But back in 2019 I suggested that from now on we only cook purely vegan. My vision was that Seven Swans would become the first vegan restaurant with a Michelin star. So we banned all animal products from the kitchen and last year we were actually awarded the Michelin star again, as the first vegan restaurant in the world. Since then we have continued to experiment and evolve a lot. We never rest on our laurels and we always want to go the extra mile.

Where do your products come from?

Ricky: Most of our vegetables and herbs come from our own cultivation, from the permaculture farm Braumannswiesen in the Taunus. In 2020 we grew 340 different types of vegetables and herbs there. This year it was significantly less because we planted a lot less due to the situation around Covid-19 because we didn't know when and if we could open at all. The risk of ending up with the finest vegetables was too big. Many foods come from wild collection, have been picked and collected by us in nature, for example wild garlic capers, elder and acacia blossoms. Or cherries, apricots, plums and figs. We even harvest and process pine cones, birch shoots or larch shoots and much more. We also work with other local producers such as "Permakulturhof Sehl". Self-cultivation and wild collection are of course very expensive and labor-intensive. But I am convinced that the effort is worth it and that the hard work is appreciated by our guests.

Is that worth it? Why?

Star gastronomy

Ricky: It is said in general: "Star gastronomy is not a gastronomy where a lot of money is made". I think that is very true. It's more of an affair of the heart. Star gastronomy is very staff-intensive because it is so complex.

Now there is also the fact that we also put in an enormous amount of effort with our own cultivation. And our restaurant is small, we can only host a maximum of 24 guests per evening (with the Corona distance rules even currently only a maximum of 12 guests). So the bill can only add up if our guests are willing to pay the appropriate prices to reward the effort.

What do you think of certificates (organic etc.)?

Seven Swans food products

Ricky: Certificates are a very interesting topic. But a certification, e.g. B. organic certification is not high on our priority list at the moment. To be honest, that still seems too much paperwork and effort at the moment. With the food we use, we don't have to hide and would certainly exceed the requirements. But how do we ensure that our wild-picked produce, on which our cuisine is based, is organic?

Why is the nobility of Guide Michelin so important to you?

Seven Swans, Ricky Saward

Ricky: In fact, the star is especially important to me. Being awarded a Michelin star is an award for performance, creativity and taste. So to speak, the Champions League when cooking.I think every chef dreams of being awarded a Michelin star. A dream came true for me too.

Do you think luxury and sustainability go well together?

Sustainability at Seven Swans

Ricky: First of all, I would have to clarify what luxury actually is? The answers are certainly very different. For some people e.g. Caviar is the epitome of luxury. I personally don't think it's a luxury to open a fish's belly and cut out its eggs, it's a big problem. For me, having good food and being able to work with it is a luxury. And to know where something grows. For example, where I can pick the sweetest cherries. According to my definition of luxury, luxury and sustainability go together quite well.

What are the challenges of your restaurant concept?

Ricky: The challenges with a concept like ours are, on the one hand, the financial challenges that have to be mastered month after month. After all, we want to prove that vegan star cuisine can be a lasting model. On the other hand, our location in Frankfurt/Main is a big challenge. Our guests are mostly non-Frankfurters, often tourists from all over the world. I think that in a city like Berlin or Copenhagen, our concept would also be well received by the local population. In Frankfurt, on the other hand, it is still difficult at the moment.

Why should you dare such a bold concept anyway?

Seven Swans

Ricky: You should definitely dare, because it's great fun and incredibly fulfilling to live your own convictions every day. 

I stand up for showing the world every day that you can conjure up incredibly delicious dishes with vegetables that grow on your own doorstep, and at the highest level - that makes me happy.

What's next for Seven Swans?

Seven Swans Frankfurt/Main

Ricky: We would like to continue working at our very high level and work on creative dishes. In addition, our team should grow a little. And we are working towards our big goal of being awarded two Michelin stars. That would be a sensation!


During the conversation with Ricky Saward, it became clear to me what a great challenge it is to run a starred restaurant without animal products. But also how fulfilling it can be.


For me, the Seven Swans with Ricky Saward as chef de cuisine is THE role model for tomorrow's gastronomy. Here it is proven every day how you can go down a path that is sustainably successful with creativity, courage and your own values.



Would you also like to develop your company sustainably? DAS HELDEN-ATELIER will be happy to support you on your way. Take a look around the website and get in touch with me. I look forward to you and your company!



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