The fourth edition of the event Care's - The Ethical Chef's Days undergoes a transformation to become a chefs’ campus. From up in the mountains, it launches a message with a formula for changing the world, made up of a series of small everyday actions.
Chefs will never be able to change the world or accomplish a revolution but at least they will make an attempt. Care's - The Ethical Chefs Days is the Italian event set up with the intent to promote an ethical and sustainable approach to food and eco-sustainable practices outside the kitchen. Heard it all before? Spectacular-sounding but rather lacking in pragmatism? Before lapsing into a mere operation of greenwashing, Care's has chosen to change its format (in order to change itself at the core).
Resize to focus on chefs
At the fourth edition, which took place from 28 to 31 March 2019, Care's finally succeeded to be what 3 Michelin-starred chef Norbert Niederkofler and promotor Paolo Ferretti had always wanted: first and foremost an opportunity for chefs to meet and exchange views and projects – and not just copy recipes, techniques or presentations.
Care's is no longer a congress, it has abolished cooking demos, reduced its public and the number of journalists admitted to the event. It has downsized to focus on the real protagonists: 30 chefs from 13 countries around the world, for a total of 25 Michelin stars, who met up in Brunico to cook (a little) and above all to talk and get to know each other, between a visit to the Lumen Mountain Photography Museum at Plan de Corones and a ripened cheese tasting session in what used to be a Second World War bunker. Care's has now become a campus and for four days a year it offers an opportunity to get together, form a community, create a network, connect the players of virtuous catering and to launch a message which is simple yet explosive: "take a little bit more care".
They are chefs, rather than politicians or scientists, so they have no solution to global warming but at Care's they are fully aware that the world can be changed thanks to little daily habits and, first and foremost, by changing ourselves. Their power lies in that "little bit" contained in the slogan.
Numerous little actions carried out every day to change their way of being chefs, restaurateurs, and consumers, the different voices of a global dialogue. “Cooking is a form of activism” explained Dominique Crenn as he cooked alongside the students of the Brunico Catering School, “the aim is to encourage small everyday actions so that they produce real change on a global level”. Chefs can be an example and do something tangible because "Actions speak louder than words" – which is also the theme of the fourth edition.
Give it back
Jock Zonfrillo came all the way from Australia to recount his own experience: "I wanted to do something to thank a country which has given me a great deal, to help the aborigines and the environment, by giving back more than I had received from them. It took me years and everyone thought I was crazy. I am just a chef and I didn’t even know how to go about it. But if you really want to do something, the secret lies in having a clear, tangible and feasible idea, stopping at nothing and surrounding yourself with expert people”.
Zonfrillo’s lesson is a practical one. From his restaurant in Adelaide, he has set up the Orana Foundation which promotes native culture and traditions, from the classification of biodiversity to the production of honey, to help support local communities.
Take a risk
You have to take risks and move out of the comfort zone of your own restaurant, says Lara Gilmore: "For 20 years at the Osteria Francescana we worked on ourselves and our restaurant. Then we opened the doors and went outside with the Food For Soul project. We ran a risk and thought out of the box, facing the unknown”. Hence the birth of the first Refettorio Ambrosiano project in Milan in 2015, and the latest one in Paris. It is necessary to take risks and Care’s also exists to provide chefs with a social security network.
Life is a mountain
Life is a mountain, not a beach. An ancient adage often repeated in these valleys, at the three Michelin-starred restaurant St.Hubertus run by chef Niederkofler, and by mountaineer Reinhold Messner, also from South Tyrol and a participant at this edition of Care's. The former has climbed to the top of his profession with an haute cuisine based exclusively on high-quality ingredients, while the latter was the first to ascend all 14 peaks over eight thousand metres. Both did it in “mountaineering stile”, in other words, without help or shortcuts and both have written a chapter in alpine history. They share a vision and a region, and since December they also share a special location at an altitude of 2375 metres a.s.l.
At Plan de Corones, high above Brunico, stands one of the branches of the Messner Mountain Museum dedicated to the history of mountaineering and designed by Zaha Hadid. Just a few steps away, we find the Lumen Photography Museum and the Alpin refuge offering cuisine signed by Niederkofler. The chefs and participants at Care's spent a whole day there, silently listening to what Messner had to say. Innovation is an intrinsic quality of the mountains, because it requires creativity and resilience to live there, to climb and find new ways of reaching the peak. It is from such a peak that the universal message of Care’s is launched: "For everyone, no matter where they are, vision is the bedrock of all actions and all achievements. Not only in the mountains".