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Food on the Edge, the annual food symposium held in Galway, Ireland, will move cities every other year from 2019 its organiser, chef JP McMahon, has told Fine Dining Lovers.
Having just wrapped up the event sponsored by S.Pellegrino for a third year, in an exclusive interview McMahon says he is looking to take the event on the road to a different location in Ireland and beyond every two years as a way to keep it fresh and also to expose the great and the good of the culinary world to everything Ireland has to offer.
“I’ve always said that Food on the Edge is at least a 20 year project to change attitudes to Irish food and food in general,” says McMahon. “So how do you keep that relevant? There are many other wonderful parts of Ireland. I don’t want to exhaust [Galway] and its resources and then have nothing left in 10 years time and have [Food on the Edge] collapse in on itself … Possibly in three or four years time, who’s to say we can’t have it, or an aspect of it, in another country?
Despite a desire to see Food on the Edge “grow internationally in terms of ideology,” McMahon says he wants to keep its boutique feel for fear of losing the intimacy that sees chefs, producers and foodies freely mixing and sharing ideas: “I think all in all we had 650 people there [this year]. I really wouldn’t like to see it bigger than that … for me, food is very personal and it’s important to keep that personality.”
Get a feel for the event in thevideo below.
The next Food on the Edge will take place on 22 and 23 October 2018, a year in which Galway is to be a European Region of Gastronomy. One theme for the 2018 event will be #conversations, where speakers will share some of the life and career changing conversations they’ve had with mentors, producers and influencers. Tantalisingly, you may even see mentor and mentee on stage together. “I started thinking about it before this year, from talking to chefs about where they had come from,” says McMahon. “Having a person talk about their philosophy or food is a very powerful thing – I want them to think about the conversation that brought them to that place.”
Right now though, McMahon is taking stock of some of the issues raised at this year’s event. “I think we need better systems for our food waste … as an industry we’re horribly behind. Once it leaves our kitchen we don’t really think about it. We need to join up the dots,” he says. “Work/life balance is really important to me,” he continues. “I have 50 staff and three restaurants. It’s really important to me that people have a life outside their work. The industry seems to consume itself. Working hours are really important, particularly at the top level. The top level really needs to look at itself. I think working a 45 hour week is something we should aspire to.”