Sustainability, from small to big realities was the hot topic at the 2018 edition of Care’s, the ethical chef days, the annual winter chef forum that takes place in the heart of the Italian Dolomites, sponsored by S.Pellegrino, to tackle the issues that chef's really care about.
From 14 to 17 January chefs, food experts and producers from around the world gathered in the snow-capped mountains to go beyond the dish and give voice to the challenges involved in managing ethics and sustainability outside of a restaurant's four walls.
A huge variety of events filled each of the three days, from 'official' gatherings to the special events that make Care’s a unique destination, including lunches and dinners, master classes, tasting sessions and parties. After all, as Oscar Farinetti of Eataly commented during a talk, “Doing the right thing has to become cool. We need to make ethical conduct and sustainability trendy”.
Here we reflect on four of the driving themes behind this year's event: the importance of empowering the younger generation to do the right thing and what big companies can do to help, starting at a grass roots level of sustainability, the responsibility to tackle waste food and the role of tradition in the future of food.
Power to the Younger Generation
The dependence of an ethical future on how younger generations are brought up, was a recurring theme throughout the event. In fact, some of the sponsors of the event were given the opportunity to take to the stage to explain their ethical and sustainable projects: Why we support Care’s.
On the theme of nurturing a younger generation, the event would not have been complete without the contribution of the sponsor S.Pellegrino.
An active supporter in encouraging young talent in gastronomy, S.Pellegrino began the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition a few years ago. “Ours is a brand of international renown, with a consolidated positioning in 50 countries, a go-to water in the ambit of prestigious Italian cuisine” commented Marco Barbieri (S.Pellegrino Int'l Business Unit). "We have chosen to invest time and resources in the talented youngsters of great international cuisine”.
Sowing Small Seeds
During the talk “Food and agriculture | Sow small, farm big” it emerged that sustainability is still work in progress, in which everyone’s support is required: important brands, famous chefs and small-scale farmers.
A commentator on the theme was Andrea Senigaglia, general manager of Alma, the most important Italian cookery school. He spoke of the importance of educating the future generations of chefs, which can only be achieved by taking them back to the land. “How can we say “I care” to students? We take them around the countryside to see producers at work, to understand what it means to be a next-generation chef”.
A sentiment echoed by producer Harald Gasser of Aspinger Farm, who supplies herbs and vegetables to St.Hubertus, Niederkofler’s restaurant commented: “Organic farming ought to be the norm. You have to be patient, believe in what you do and not abandon the land”.
Food Waste Reduction
Waste was also a pervasive topic throughout the event. While many alarming figures were reeled off on stage about the global nature of food waste, the most poignant statistic was impossible to ignore: in 2015 one third of the world’s food production was wasted.
The theme of small realities was made clear that every chef has his/her own solution to the problem of waste and his/her own way of making a contribution on their own smaller scale in an attempt to create a different food system.
Among those taking part in the debate, was Latin America's Best Female Chef, Leonor Espinosa, who runs Leo restaurant in Bogota, as well as being an active campaigner for Columbian culinary traditions and sustainable agriculture with her FUNLEO foundation.
“In my restaurant, we try to reduce waste as much as possible by using all food parts and serving sensible portions” she explained. “But the food loss problem starts in the fields. And it is there, in the countryside, that our foundation is active, trying to preserve our country’s extraordinary biodiversity”.
Her thoughts are echoed by Lara Gilmore, Massimo Bottura’s wife and communications manager of the Food for soul project: “We have recently published the book Bread is Gold, with contributions of chefs from all over the world who have proffered their anti-waste recipes. This is not a trend, it is a real need”.
The Future has its Roots in Tradition
Various chefs conducting master classes reflected on the importance of rooting the future of food in tradition. Recipes, ingredients and typical dishes were featured were from local cuisines, from Tomaz Kavcic’s Slovenia and the Berezutskiy twins' Russia to Maksut Askar’s Turkey.
In fact, Maksut made a dish representing the message that food can represent, called Hummus and Anatolian landscape, commenting, “There is no such thing as a single Turkish cuisine. I call it Anatolian cuisine as a tribute to all the peoples who have contributed to it"
“In my restaurant, I do not serve food but I share it; I open the doors of my home and recount my culture and my traditions.”
Photos © Diego Artioli, Luca DalGe and Missclaire