The seventh edition of Parabere Forum took place on 26 September with a special online event - live from Paris, Sydney and Buenos Aires - and was dedicated to the theme of 'community'.
This year's conference, set up by journalist/author Maria Canabal, provided a different kind of meeting space, as female industry leaders met online to explore the sense of community in food at a time when it has never mattered more. "I have never been more proud of the women in our Parabere family," said Canabal, opening the conference to the online audience from 30 different countries.
The event also served as an opportunity to launch the second book of Parabere essays: ENCORE - Inspiring Ways with Leftovers, from 100 Thoughtful Cooks. For each copy sold, 5 euros is donated to the Parabere grant. Copies are available through the Parabere Forum website.
Here are the main highlights:
Valuing Farms and Farmers
Palisa Anderson (pictured right) - chef, farmer, TV presenter, writer and owner of Chat Thai restaurant group - spoke to editor and events director Joanna Savill (pictured left) from her home on the East Coast of Australia on the importance of connecting with the land. The chef-turned-farmer tends 107 acres of land just north of Byron Bay at Boon Luck Farm.
A new farmer, Anderson highlighted the disappearing skill of farming on small farms. "There are so many chefs, cooks and restaurants, but the farms are actually disappearing. There are fewer and fewer small-scale farmers," she said as she urged the community to question how their food is farmed, while visiting their local farmers and observing the bio diversity of nature. She offered the following advice:
- Make sure you buy food from people you can talk to, ask them: 'Can I come and visit your farm?'
- Look around at the farm; are there any insects? Are there ants? Are there pollinators? What’s it like under the trees, is it dead? Is there mulch? Is there life?
- Learn about what it looks like when you drive along the highway, everything is dead, it's been sprayed … what does your local park look like, are there weeds? Nature doesn't like grass alone, nature is biodiverse.
"There's a community in soil, and it's a really important community," she concluded.
Building a Sense of Community Through a Bar
Next up, chef, business owner, entrepreneur and food activist Narda Lepes (pictured far right) introduced her friend Inés De los Santos (pictured centre), an award-winning bartender, entrepreneur, self professed “drinks nerd” and owner of Orilla and Cochinchina, a bar that she opened during the pandemic.
Inés places great importance on community and working with women and has consequently formed and inspired the new generation of Argentine bartenders.
“Everything I learnt in the past were my tools and my weapons to develop myself and to drive through these hard times. That was the time to do it, to build a team, to do any project that was in our heads," she said.
Feeding a Community
From Paris, and the Left Bank of the River Seine, baker Apollonia Poilâne was joined by chef Maxime Bonnabry Duval (right), resident chef at the Refettorio Paris, and Soizic Marceau (left).
Along with the restaurant community in Paris, they managed to bring 175000 meals to people in need during the lock-down.
“It was very important to make sure the meals we were delivering were proper meals, not sandwiches, but created between the refettorio and the restaurant community, the quality couldn’t be compromised - what was important and what made the difference was the community and the good will.”
Inspiring a Future Generation of Female Chefs
Finally, Maria Canabal and Paolo Passoni, from S.Pellegrino, talked about gender disparity and the role of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy in helping to increase the visibility of female chefs in the industry, in a conversation moderated by Fine Dining Lovers' Tom Jenkins.
Passoni reminded us that since the global competition to find the next generation of young chefs launched in 2015, the female presence in the semi-final has increased from 9% to 27% in the current edition.
Finally, the news was announced that the 2022 Parabere Forum will be held in Palma, Mallorca.