'Chefs have the power to change things if they listen to these stories'

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

This year, the Food on the Edge symposium is back, gathering chefs from around the world in dundrum Ireland to discuss the future of food and what their responsibility should be in shaping that future.

In 2020, JP McMahon and the team behind the event published an e-book, Lessons from Lockdown: Cooking After Covid, in collaboration with 121 chefs including Massimo Bottura, Nathan OutlawAlbert Adriá and Elena Arzak, an account of the pandemic and how it affected chefs and restaurateurs around the world and a call to action to rebuild the world's culinary landscape on solid foundations. It is still available for free on the FOTE website when you subscribe to its newsletter.

The conference, which will take place on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th October 2021, will be a little bit different to previous years, in that some of the speakers will be attending virtually, and many guests will do the same - not just because of travel restrictions, but because it means fewer of them will need to take a week out of their busy lives to make the (albeit arrestingly beautiful) journey to Airfield Estate.

"It's amazing how we switched over," JP,  FOTE founder and chef owner of Michelin-starred Aniar said in an interview, "during lockdown I did four talks in one day," one in Vancouver, another in Brazil, one in England and another in Ireland, "and it felt like I'd been everywhere."

"It's definitely an element that we'll keep," he added, though the proportion of speakers attending in person is likely to be higher in years to come. 

Line-up and what to expect 

The 2021 line-up doesn't disappoint, and includes famed Dolomites Pizza chef Denis Lovatel, Bertrand Grébaut & Théophile Pourriat of Septime; Garima Arora, the first female Indian chef to earn a Michelin star; Virgilio Martínez, chef owner Central, the restaurant listed 4th on the World's 50 Best list for 2021 and Midunu Institute founder, chef Selassie Atadika, to name but a few.

The theme this year is 'Social Gastronomy,' and reflecting on the effects of the pandemic will likely be a big aspect of the discussion, in the sense of what is the relevance of gastronomy and food in society in a pandemic-struck world. 

But seven years after it was created, the world has changed and the event aims to tackle much broader issues, JP explained: "Food on the Edge has been expanding over the years in the sense of its reach and the places that it talks about."

"We began with a very restaurant-focused symposium with predominantly chefs, we had one or two other industry professionals, whereas now there's much more of a blend, still with a chef focus, but with chefs talking about hospital food [Joshna Maharaj], feeding refugees [Mark Brand, Ellie Kisyombe], or cooking in schools [Alice Waters, Darina Allen, Gráinne Kelliher] - so still chefs, but cooking in much wider fields." 

"We have a nice blend of chefs, food writers, growers, fermenters, journalists - the range is quite broad, and I want to keep growing that, whilst still keeping it chef-led because chefs have the power to change things if they listen to these stories." 

Tickets are still available if you'd like to attend, as are virtual passes should you be unable to travel. 

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 13th October 2021

'Chefs have the power to change things if they listen to these stories'