Much has been written about restaurants going digital with deliveries and takeaways during the coronavirus pandemic. But food events have also pivoted to online formats to avoid large gatherings of people in auditoriums for ceremonies, talks or cooking shows.
From the Michelin Guide and the recent World’s 50 Best Bars ceremonies, to San Sebastián Gastronomika and the Omnivore festival, world-renowned events have relied on smartphones and computers to reach a global audience in streaming mode.
The trend’s latest follower is acclaimed chef Alex Atala, who will host his cerebral food conference FRUTO online for the first time, in partnership with the Basque Culinary Center. The symposium, co-created by Atala and cultural promoter Felipe Ribenboim with ATÁ Institute (Atala’s organisation focusing on promoting Brazilian food diversity), will be held on 19 and 20 November.
Although all previous editions of FRUTO were broadcast live (with all videos available on YouTube), this will be the first time it has been 100 percent online. “Even if it is a pocket version, and our first try at doing something in a digital format, I think of it like a capsule, a small container but with a powerful effect,” says Atala.
Felipe Ribenboim and Alex Atala
With the theme 'Gastronomy as a Tool for Transformation’, the event will address sustainability and discuss how the gastronomy sector can engage with the many environmental, economic, and social realities looming on the horizon, especially during a pandemic. More than 30 participants are part of the programme, including environmental activists, farmers, foragers, and, of course, chefs such as Matt Orlando from Amass (Denmark), and Douglas McMaster from Silo (UK).
This edition focuses on a new generation of actors in the food industry, bringing young leaders to share their sustainability experience around the world, and counting on a broader geographic and cultural representation. Step forward the likes of farmer Chido Govera from Zimbabwe, and chef Marsia Taha from Bolivia. Young French environmental activist Camille Étienne will also speak about how Generation Y is changing the world today.
“It is incredible to think that there are a lot of talented people emanating positive messages outside the conventional axes, like Europe, USA, etc. We want to highlight other voices in the food scene, changing the perspectives we used to have of the world,” says Atala.
Ribenboim explains that, to connect with a younger audience, the event seeks a more dynamic format, with talks on the first day, and workshops on the second. There, attendees can ‘enter’ the restaurant kitchens, and visit farms and other projects, virtually.