London Chef Workshop

Most of us equate the term ‘manifesto’ with a symphony, an opera, or an author’s life’s work.  Therefore, asking chefs and food industry leaders, what would it look like if chefs had a manifesto, uniting them together with a common goal – to eradicate world hunger – seemed a little unusual.  On the 4th October, set amongst the beautiful Omved Gardens in Highgate, North London, the SDG2 Advocacy Hub drew together individuals from Switzerland, Brazil, America, Canada, Australia, England, Ireland and Wales, to debate and discuss the finer details of just such a manifesto.  Omved Gardens, named to promote natural wellness and lifestyle, is itself a stunning architectural, artistic and botanic site for sustainable eating and organic produce.

workshop

The over-riding consensus from those present, was that there was definitely a desire for the proposed manifesto, as chefs and food industry leaders agreed they have a powerful platform to generate wide-spread social change.  The structure for the day involved taking big ideas and concepts and breaking them down until they became practical actions that could form the basis for the manifesto. 

Agreeing first upon common values within the industry, the discussion moved quickly onto eight thematic areas that the manifesto could arise from.  The thematic areas included:

  • High quality food that is accessible and affordable for all;
  • No food loss or food waste/surplus;
  • Investing and committing to buy sustainably;
  • Wide-spread education of diverse diets and nutritious cooking;
  • Celebrating local, seasonal food;
  • Focusing on plant-based ingredients;
  • Sourcing and cooking with ingredients that are treated with respect for the earth and the oceans;
  • The protection of biodiversity and improved animal welfare;

Kitchen

After a break for lunch, a delicious meal prepared with left-overs from the previous night’s dinner, discussions continued around the practicality of a chef’s social movement.  If the Chefs Manifesto comes into being, what are we going to ask people within the food industry to do in order to eradicate world hunger? 

A resounding action was that chefs are the protectors of the world’s pantry, and they must champion a vast variety of ingredients in kitchens around the word to maintain produce sustainability.  Coupled with this, they have a mandate to purchase ingredients that do not negatively impact the world’s biodiversity.  Together, those present discussed the power they have to transform the industry through demanding tougher standards for producers and suppliers.  Chefs therefore have an obligation to know exactly where their ingredients come from and how they are produced.  Producers equally have an obligation to be transparent in their practices. 

workshop

Although the consultation process produced many unanswered questions, all of those present agreed the day was invaluable in beginning to unite chefs and industry leaders together to enact real, lasting change.  As consumers’ awareness of long-term food sustainability grows, food industry professionals have the power to dramatically alter eating habits globally.  The social platforms they have, coupled with their influence amongst producers and suppliers, has the power to radically change the food-world.

Photos by Hermione McCosh, Forest Film 

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