Chefs on stage at Madrid Fusión Alimentos de España paid tribute to the small producers who are vital to their restaurants.
Offering a vision from the ancient tribal Quillasinga community where he lives, Aníbal Criollo, the chef and owner of Naturalia restaurant in Nariño in the south of Colombia, reminded delegates that care for our environment and the planet are more important than any material goods.
“The good life is not about having an excess of money, it is about having a balance in how you feel and behave and the way you share with those next to you,” he said.
Criollo who lives in a part of Colombia so remote that it took him and his niece two days to reach the nearest airport in order to make the trip to Spain, spoke of the Chagra, the ecosystem in his community, which he describes as a communion between nature, animals and human beings.
Criollo set the tone for further presentation during day two of Madrid Fusión Alimentos de España, as the chefs who followed all highlighted the importance of local producers and making the most of the ingredients that are grown in their immediate vicinity.
Davide Caranchini from Materia restaurant in Lake Como outlined his vision of sustainability, which goes beyond a tick-box exercise for him.
“Sometimes we think of sustainability as something we have to do; we consider it a green issue, but people should come first; economic sustainability is more important than the green issue,” he said.
“The suppliers we work with in the restaurant work in really small batches; they are sustainable, but we have to attach the right value to the way they have to work otherwise it is a problem. If we don’t pay them they can be sustainable, they might not be able to act in the same sustainable way. For this reason people are more important than the ingredients.
Once named the most sustainable chef in the world, Eneko Atxa of Azurmendi restaurant in the Basque Country has long been at the forefront of the movement of restaurants with a social conscience. At Madrid Fusión he celebrated the growers and producers that supply ingredients to Azurmendi every day.
“The producers start the cooking process for us before the ingredients get to the kitchen, without them we simply couldn’t do what we do,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t have to be that radical, let’s show common sense and work with the people close to us; let’s be sensible and sensitive.”