How can chefs influence change?

Chefs Manifesto food

Those who have the biggest part in preparing our food have a responsibility to transmit core values to their consumers. 

As we have seen in the last few years, changes in food culture come in waves. We can see this by looking at trends such as Avocado, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan and so many more that come to mind. With each wave, we get a little bit closer, or in some cases a little bit further from our food.

Fortunately, we are now seeing an increasing trend in homegrown, local & in some cases, organic foods. This is a huge advancement, it reduces our environmental footprint significantly and is driving Agenda 2030. In order to ensure that this trend is driven and continues to be driven, we need the core food influencers to push this trend i.e. chefs.

For the vast majority of history, we as humans have been seasonal eaters. We didn’t have the technology or ability to be anything else. Today, though, this is not the case. Daily, we see chefs pairing farmed Salmon with Spanish lemons, garlic being imported from China, etc. But that’s not the way to support the local food scene, nor is it more delicious, in fact, eating in-season food is so much tastier. A lot of people don’t even know when certain foods are in season, this is one way in which chefs can educate their customers.

Another way is the way that chefs prepare dishes on the menu. Zero food waste is a goal that we strive to achieve. Take Cauliflower for example. We have been thought throughout the years that the only valuable part of the vegetable is the florets. This is not the case, the leaves, the stalk, the whole vegetable is useful and can be prepared and used in many ways. By having a diverse menu with dishes such as Cauliflower leaf soup, roasted Cauliflower leaves or Cauliflower leaf pesto – the opportunities are endless.

Does eating seasonal & local mean spending a little more money on quality local foods? Maybe. But that enables farmers and growers to spend a little more money taking care of their animals and crops, which is a net win for everyone. Also, using the whole vegetable and not throwing away perfectly good parts of the veg will save your establishment money.

So, if you’re wondering how chefs can influence a change in food culture, this is how. Sharing knowledge. Taking the time to talk to people. Explaining their partnerships with suppliers, why this is so important and the change that this makes. This is what Chefs Manifesto is all about. Together, chefs can influence the change that we need to make our food and the way we eat more sustainable.

In the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda, there is a special term for eating seasonally: ritucharya

The concept of ritucharya breaks down what to eat during each season to maintain health and prevent disease. Although the seasons and foods included are specific to the Indian subcontinent, the philosophy still applies no matter where you live. 

Besides the health benefits you can gain by eating in season, seasonal foods typically taste better. Plus, foods that are produced in season are better for the environment and easier on your wallet.