Food On The Edge 2017 Concludes in Galway
The two-day international food symposium Food On The Edge concluded in Galway on Tuesday the 10th of October. More than 400 people attended on each day of Food On The Edge, dubbed the “Electric Picnic for chefs”, which was held in the Black Box theatre in Galway city. More than 50 of the world’s best international and Irish chefs and food leaders took to the stage to share their food stories and debate topics. Approximately 70 Irish food producers showcased their produce in the Artisan Food Village.
The major theme of Food On The Edge 2017 was Action & Reaction and a number of speakers presented personal stories about how they have been inspired to take action in reaction to issues spoken about in previous years at Food On The Edge.
The actions that high-profile chefs have taken to address hunger and nutrition was a key theme, with Daniel Burns of Torst and Luksus in Brooklyn saying, “As chefs we can influence social change, act locally and spread the word globally.” South African chef Margot Janse, founder of the Isabelo charity, and Spanish chef Quique Dacosta (Quique Dacosta Restaurant), ambassador for Action Against Hunger, also devoted their food stories to the topic of hunger and nutrition. CEO of Concern Worldwide, Dominic MacSorley, opened this year’s Food On The Edge with a talk on the topic of Reaching Zero Hunger.
Tuesday the 10th of October was World Mental Health Day and mental health in the hospitality services was another key theme. It was addressed by Irish-born, London-based chef Anna Haugh (Bob Bob Ricard), North American writer & author Kat Kinsman (Chefs With Issues) and North American chef Elise Kornack (from the former Brooklyn restaurant Take Root).
Another key theme was work-life balance in the life of the chef and restaurateur, which was addressed by Norwegian chef Esben Holmboe Bang (Maaemo), who spoke about how he is taking steps towards creating a more healthy work environment for chefs and staff by having introduced a three-and-a-half day week followed by a four-day week. Magnus Nilsson of Faviken, Sweden, said he believes that innovation and creativity can be increased by time out from work. “No one in the team should be indispensible and everyone should want to be there and not to have to be there,” said Nilsson and he encourages a policy of five weeks’ holidays per year and a healthy work-life balance. “Head chefs forget to look after themselves,” said Nicolai Norregaard (Kadeau, Copenhagen) who also advocated for a better work-life balance in the industry.
Education was another key theme and JP McMahon shared his “action & reaction” story about his new Education Agenda campaign to get food introduced as a proper subject in schools in Ireland. JP said, “I want to emphasise the importance of food and food education in Ireland. It’s essential to have food as a mandatory subject on the school curriculum. I think it’s really important that we do that. Food education can help combat childhood obesity, poor eating habits and it teaches the importance of Irish food culture.”
Four sixth class children from Galway Educate Together National School, which JP’s two daughters attend, concluded Food On The Edge by going on stage to read out essays they had written on the subject of the future of food.
JP McMahon closed the award-winning event by asking each person in attendance to sign a letter he has written to Ireland’s Minister for Education requesting that a food subject be made mandatory on the school curriculum.
After the two days of talks, the organisers of Food On The Edge are taking the speakers on a two-day trip to visit Irish food producers on the 11th and 12th of October. Last year the trip saw the group explore Connemara while this year they are visiting The Burren, taking in en route Kelly’s Oysters, Dunguaire Castle, The Burren Smokehouse and St. Tola Goat Farm before returning to Galway.
Follow the official hashtag #FOTE2017 for regular updates.