It was like going back to the 1970s, when people gathered in remote fields to hear Jimi Hendrix, or maybe a new guru. The love & peace message began right at the point of arrival, with René Redzepi hugging friends, one by one and welcoming everyone to a day of information, reflection, and fun. It is difficult to imagine that a surreal combination of unusual settings, hippie vibes and an almost religious intensity could be a successful background to a food event! The atmosphere was ‘extra green, extra rough and extra Nordic’.
The stage, built inside a huge circus tent, and covered in grass and wild plants, was the podium for food heroes, each one with their own expertise. If there were an award for best music in a gastronomic event, MAD would get a Grammy. Each session was introduced by the best of rock with Led Zeppelin, by highlights of avant-garde music and even ‘organic hip-hop’. Redzepi himself was in charge of the “extra decibels” asking the audience to react in Glastonbury fashion after each presentation! Speakers approached the theme - Appetite - in different ways: from physical hunger to the metaphoric appetite for knowledge and experience.
It was possible to identify 12 topics addressed in most presentations:
1. Ethics – do the right thing, not the easiest or the most profitable.
2. Care for the producers – do not use them only to make you look good.
3. There is no space in the kitchen for big egos and divas.
4. Chefs are not scientists or academics, but working with specialists is mutually beneficial.
5. Sharing knowledge and experience is the key to success.
6. Diversity needs to be celebrated.
7. We have to make the impossible possible.
8. We have to avoid waste and use our products and resources wisely.
9. There is an urge for the real and for the authentic.
10. Uniqueness is directly related to creativity, but can only be achieved with honesty.
11. We need to slow down a bit to appreciate the simple and valuable things around us.
12. Happiness is the most important thing in life.
There were many speakers in the two intense days, but here are some of the highlights and quotes from the event:
• Massimo Bottura’s horror movie showing how far a mother would go to prove that her tortellini is the best.
• The journalist Andrea Petrini, talking about the responsibility of the chef: “Responsibility feeds memory, and without memory there is no appetite.”
• Food historian Massimo Montanari: “I think of a dish as an open masterpiece to be completed by the guests”
• Chef Wylie Dufresne, WD-50: “There are many people outside the kitchen with much more knowledge than the chefs themselves. We have to learn from them too”
• Ethnobiologist Andrea Pieroni: “ Everything is one. Everything is connected. We are all one”
• Psychologist Paul Rozin:”Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité…and a new one – manger”
• Mission Street Food (a Food and charitable organisation) : ”Can we transcend capitalism? We need to have the audacity of hope.”
• Ferran Adrià: “Creativity has no compassion for you, regardless of your passion.”
On reflection, MAD2 was above all expectations, it was one of the most relevant, interesting and entertaining food events ever organised, and the audience was enthusiastic! MAD3 is going to take place in August 2013 and the partner and curator will be David Chang with his magazine, Lucky Peach.
The theme couldn’t be more appropriate: GUTS – where ‘ingredients and courage’ will be the stars.
Jimi’s song Bold as Love is already on my wish list.