I’ve been amazed over the last few years at the increasing popularity of the Food Networks on TV, featuring celebrity chefs trying to out-celebrity one another. As an amateur foodie, I have a few favourites among the TV chefs and try to catch their shows when time permits. I seldom think of it beyond that though – in the kitchen, preparing another great meal and that’s it.
Who better to champion the cause of organically grown, local, quality food? Chef Michael Smith from PEI comes to mind as do others. Now, some of the top chefs in the world, the eight members of the International Advisory Board of the Basque Culinary Center have issued what they call the “Lima Declaration”, reflections they hope will serve as a reference and inspiration for the young people who will become tomorrow’s chefs.
In the seven point declaration, they say cooking is not only a response to the basic human need of feeding ourselves; it is also more than the search for happiness. They go on to say cooking is a powerful, transformative tool that, through the joint effort of co-producers—whether chefs, producers or consumers — can change the way the world nourishes itself.
Read on …
To all of you, we direct this reflection, entitled ‘An Open Letter to the Chefs of Tomorrow’ and signed in Lima on September 10, 2011.
In relation with nature
1. Our work depends on nature’s gifts. As a result we all have a responsibility to know and protect nature, to use our cooking and our voices as a tool for recovering heirloom and endangered varieties and species, and promoting new ones. In this way we can help protect the earth’s biodiversity, as well as preserve and create flavours and to elaborate culinary methods.
2. Over the course of thousands of years, the dialogue between humans and nature has created agriculture. We are all, in other words, part of an ecological system. To ensure this ecology is as healthy as possible, let’s encourage and practice sustainable production in the field and in the kitchen. In this way, we can create authentic flavour.
In relation with society
3. As chefs, we are the product of our culture. Each of us is heir to a legacy of flavours, dining customs and cooking techniques. Yet we don’t have to be passive. Through our cooking, our ethics, and our aesthetics, we can contribute to the culture and identity of a people, a region, a country. We can also serve as an important bridge with other cultures.
4. We practice a profession that has the power to affect the socio-economic development of others. We can have a significant economic impact by encouraging the exportation of our own culinary culture and fomenting others’ interest in it. At the same time, by collaborating with local producers and employing fair economic practices, we can generate sustainable local wealth and financially strengthen our communities.
In relation with knowledge
5. Although a primary goal of our profession is to provide happiness and stir emotions, through our own work and by working with experts in the fields of health and education, we have a unique opportunity to transmit our knowledge to members of the public, helping them, for example, to acquire good cooking habits, and to learn to make healthy choices about the foods they eat.
6. Through our profession, we have the opportunity to generate new knowledge, whether it be something so simple as the development of a recipe or as complicated as an in-depth research project. And just as we have each benefited from the teaching of others, we have a responsibility, in turn, to share our learning.
In relation with values
7. We live in a time in which cooking can be a beautiful form of self-expression. Cooking today is a field in constant evolution that includes many different disciplines. For that reason, it’s important to carry out our quests and fulfill our dreams with authenticity, humility, and above all, passion. Ultimately, we are each guided by our own ethics and values.
Ferran Adriá, Yukkio Hattori, Massimo Bottura, Michel Bras, René Redzepi, Gastón Acurio, Alex Atala and Dan Barber.