Australian Fair Food Forum

What is the role of the Chef?

These notes were taken from a group discussion session at the Food Sovereignty Convergence in Canbbera 23/24 November 2017.

Discussion led by Ben McMenamin.

  • Chef for 11 years, runs Social Food Project- consulting, events, workshops etc. AFSA committee for 2 years
  • Chefs have a platform, especially celebrity chefs. How do we mobilise that?
  • Notion of cooking- young people are less capable, losing food literacy + skills. Role of chef as teachers?
  • Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden- enjoyable food education program for primary school kids. Grow, harvest, cook and share. Embedded in curriculum.
  • Is this generation less literate? Much more diversity than our parent’s generation
  • Chefs could work with schools?
  • Bruce Pascoe event with chefs in Brisbane- how to get indigenous staples widely grown and used?
  • Educating chefs
  • Building relationships between chefs and farmers. Cross promotion, skill share etc.
  • Difficult to build relationships with chefs- long hours and stockists are far cheaper and easier
  • Connnecting meat farmers with chefs is easier than greens
  • Model where chefs create a new menu each week- risky but good experience
  • Events- producer’s lunches
  • Often chefs will love a producer but they can’t grow the quantity required
  • How to manage so many different suppliers?
  • Changing menus is a huge undertaking
  • Provenance on menus
  • Events ideas
  • School workshops- cooking meals for parents/staff
  • Farmers market tours
  • Food for thought festival- Albany
  • Workshops
  • Soil health workshops for farmers
  • Creating spaces for farmers to network and share
  • Chefs teaching people to cook
  • Ipswich- highest obesity rates
  • Jamie Oliver- ministry of food
  • Farmers have to pay to get promo campaign
  • Woolworths links criticised
  • Running 6-7 years, subsidised first few years
  • Lots of people in Ipswich have now done a basic course
  • Really helps with food literacy but less now because $110 not $10.
  • Could local councils/community groups adopt a similar model?
  • Teaching parents to cook vegetables without boiling them to death
  • Canberra Environment Centre workshops
  • Locavore workshops- lots of interest
  • ‘Making a meal of it’- how to buy, store, cook, use leftovers etc.
  • Program for year 9/10 students about getting them into hospitality- training them up, big event at the end @ local winery kitchen.
  • Daylesford Culture Club
  • Beechworth Honey Kitchen workshop
  • Ballarat Chef School- excursions to meet bakers, producers etc. rather than excursion to Melbourne to eat.
  • Do chefs have a responsibility?
  • There is so much good affordable food in the city, so people choose to go out and not cook
  • Food that is ethically produced is also the most delicious- win-win
  • Seasonal cooking- chefs having ‘creative trust’ and being educators about seasonality, people going somewhere because they like the chef’s style rather than specific menu items. But can you have a seasonal thai restaurant in Canberra?
  • Does the ‘creative chef’ idea exclude people who can’t afford to pay for it?
  • How do I find seasonal, ethical, sustainable restaurants?
  • Top-level creative chefs have a trickle down effect on the whole industry
  • Chefs do respond to customers- so go and ask questions! Where does this ingredient come from?
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Great to see so many ideas.
Here’s some more

  • chefs as innovators to drive the move to more plantbased dishes on menus.
  • with the rise in chronic diseases prevalent in the aging (often monied )population, chefs have a responsibilty to customers to provide healthy low fat, sugar and salt dishes as alternatives .

Also chef is the heart of the kitchen without the chef there will be no direction for creation of menu and specials which is normal kitchen staff doesn’t have capability not unless gained enough experience
Also they are ones who control money matter to minimise hight costingg

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