Food on the Edge 2016 - Day 2

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 25th October 2016

It was the second (and unfortunately final) day of the Food on the Edge 2016 festival in Galway today.

With even more great speakers and a buzzing excitement in the air, there was one name in particular on a lot of people’s lips. Michelin starred Massimo Bottura flew in to Ireland very late last night and so his talk was pushed back slightly. This didn’t dampen the start of the day too much as many were still here bright and early to hear from JP and the first selection of speakers.

Massimo Botturo and 

Pierre Koffman

After a coffee break, Massimo took to the stage, walking out to a rather bizarre Italian song about bananas! His talk, ‘Cooking is a Call to Action’ told the story of the refettorio (soup kitchen) he set up in Lapa, a region of extreme poverty in Rio. He called it an area where “you can breathe poverty”. He stressed that people couldn’t possibly understand what life is like there without experiencing it. A very emotional and inspiring tale, Massimo explained how they managed to create the building with a quick turnaround, despite some rather challenging structural problems.

His face lit up as he told the audience about the first night they were open. He also wanted to make it clear that this was not a charity project, rather it was about reviving people’s dignity: "You can feed people in any soup kitchen but to rebuild dignity is different”. Many people were moved by Massimo’s address – he told them that cooking “is an act of love and a call to act”. This wasn’t just preaching, Massimo has lived this experience. He also hinted that he is looking to do a similar project in London or New York so watch this space for more news on that!

 A recurrent theme of the conference, understanding difference was also mentioned by Kamal Mouzawak. Kamal founded at Souk El Tayeb, Lebanon's first Open-Air Farmers Market. The idea behind the farmers’ market is to unite people under their common love and passion for food, despite their differences. He very powerfully opened his talk with this message: "The world has never been as wonderful and as catastrophic as it is today." He told us of the diverse range of people in Lebanon but also reminded us that this can be a dangerous thing, leading to conflicts.

Kamal also reiterated certain points of Massimo’s talk, that sharing our relationship with food can be a healing experience and repair broken communities. Also in agreement with Massimo, he asked: “What are we going to do?” It was abundantly clear at FOTE that there was an underlying theme of how the actions of those in the food industry affect others. In hosting regional food festivals, Kamal and some others sought to “celebrate the richness of their food in their own environment”.

This too was an important theme over the two days, to understand individual heritage and how this is related to cuisine and food behaviours.

Another highlight of the afternoon was Pierre Koffmann. He provided a rather different experience with his time on the stage as he opted to have a conversation with newly awarded Irish Food Ambassador Jacinta Dalton of the FoodieForum. He was delightfully risqué in this exchange, talking about why he thinks new ‘Nordic cuisine’ is s**t and how he is still happy in the kitchen after fifty years of being a chef. Jacinta mentioned that many chefs are scared to work for Pierre, he said he gets called ‘the bear’. A firm believer in maintaining standards, he told us that “you’ve got to work or die”.

However, it’s important to remember that Pierre has trained many of today’s great young chefs and he closed by advising them to keep their passion and work hard. "The future of food lies with young people. They will have to be passionate about what they do. As a chef, you’ve got to be." It is the young chefs and their passion that Pierre says keep him in the kitchen and keep him young – that, and being bored sat at home not cooking!

Every speaker at Food on the Edge 2016 has contributed something thoughtful and interesting. The talks over the two days were all engaging and you could hear how inspired many attendees felt at every break as discussion and debate were everywhere!

The incredible offerings in the Artisan Food Village were just the icing on the cake. Some beautiful local produce including seafood, potatoes, wines and many concoctions using seaweed.

We spoke to JP about how he felt the event went and he said:  “I think the level of content has increased in terms of activism, people talking less about themselves and their restaurants and more about what they can do. I think it’s important because I’ve said this already but the last thing I want to do is add another chef symposium like that. The main thing is to try and come together once a year to talk, to reflect and to go out and do things.”

So what are his plans for FOTE 2017? They’re already looking at castles for a venue – keeping things fresh and exciting! JP told us that he wants Food on the Edge to evolve and grow but not to become stale and repetitive.  

“We’re gonna keep going with the panels and that but I want to try and innovate the model to make sure its adding up to something. If its not then it’s just us talking to each other. I don’t think it is but I just want to be able to qualify what we’re doing, whether that is collecting stories from the speakers or the delegates but certainly trying to collate some information about what the event is doing. I wouldn’t be happy if it wasn’t evolving because I didn’t do it to create a model, I did it to try and disrupt the model.”

Super early bird tickets are already available for next years Food on the Edge (9th-10th October 2017) from – these are just 300 Euro each if bought before the 31st December so why not reserve your place now?

>>> Read more on Food on the Edge 2016



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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 25th October 2016

Food on the Edge 2016 - Day 2