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While the symbolic image of the first edition of Care’s, The Ethical Chef Days was breakfast at dawn in a refuge perched on a rock ledge in the Dolomites, this year’s event – organised in the mountains of Alta Val Badia from 22 to 25 January and sponsored by S.Pellegrino – can be summed up in two photos.
Moreover, in the words of one of its creators Norbert Niderkofler, Care's is for those who “have something to say and use their cuisine to express it.” This is not such an obvious statement as it might sound.
The first shot depicts the stage of the Ciasa Dla Cultura (House of Culture), which welcomed the speakers involved in two round tables, both of which were focused on sustainability themes: the first on the interrelations between food and environmental impact, the second on the lesser known connections between architecture, design and new technologies.
The quality of ingredients and the age-old issue of “0 km” are two concepts that now seem to be taken for granted. "But beware," warns Dominik Flammer, expert economist and food historian, "of turning the ‘local food at all costs’ concept into a mere marketing ploy. Put your ego aside and make room in the limelight for your dairyman, your trusted farmer, and your butcher.”
Lisa Casali, scientist and Italian anti-waste guru, invites consumers and chefs to purchase and eat moderately, this being the path to wisdom. The talks given by guest speakers confirm that the overall temperature of the planet increased by one degree in 2016. What does the climate have to do with what we eat? Climate change has reduced cereal production by 5%, and the same applies to plant and animal biodiversity.
The restaurant of the future
Starting from the second day of the talks – focused on design and new technologies – a less catastrophic outlook emerged. The ethical chef has no choice but to inhabit a building that is consistent with his or her philosophy. The restaurant of the future will be built in wood, the only renewable material able to absorb Co2.
Tomorrow’s restaurant is already a reality for Christian Puglisi, who has won the Sustainability Award with his Relae in Copenhagen. "The secret is to ask yourself what you can do without and where you can cut superfluous costs, without detracting from the clients’ comfort. Lighting, waste, heating and an overly invasive table service are the items to review. Tomorrow’s restaurant is affordable: I want my own employees to be able to dine out at my restaurants: nothing could be more ethical than that.”
30 chefs, 16 countries, one kitchen
The second photo shows the huge kitchen of the St.Hubertus - Rosa Alpina restaurant: on the last evening of the event it embraces 30 chefs from 16 different countries like an enormous maternal figure. All of them are busily engaged in the preparation of their dish in a steamy atmosphere of knowing looks. Some are busy at the grill, some are frying food and some are boiling it, while other chefs are tasting the results.
Standing beside Italian chef Riccardo Camanini, who is checking his cacio e pepe cooked inside a calf’s bladder, Jan Manuel Barriento from El Cielo in Bogotà is dressing his beef with mango and gulupa, a Columbian herb similar to passion flower, and beetroot pepper. Further down, Gregory Czarnecki from the Waterkloof in Cape Town is frying langoustines in clarified butter, to be served with slices of apple marinated in ginger beer. And a very young Martina Caruso from the Signum restaurant on the Aeolian Island of Salina – shortly to host the next stop of Care’s tour in May - has imbued her dish with the aroma of caper sauce, typical of her native Island, alongside the Australian myrtle of Jock Zonfrillo from the Orana restaurant in Adelaide: this too is what Care’s is all about.
Special awards to the young ethical chefs
This event, scheduled each year in the mountains of Alta Val Badia, also shows that it cares about the future by awarding the younger generations with training internships abroad. The Young Ethical Chef award was assigned to the very young chef Federico Kratter, born in 1995, while the Young Patissier Award went to Elisa Sorrentino and the Young Hospitality Award to Paola Formica, a student at the Carlo Porta School in Milan.
Finally, a special prize, the Care’s Social Responsibility Award, will support the Brandimarte Agricultural firm of Castelluccio di Norcia, Umbria, a producer of the famous Castelluccio lentils, which was destroyed by the recent earthquake in Italy.