Chefs' Manifesto Culinary Conference with Paul Newnham and Chantelle Nicholson
Le Cordon Bleu London were joined by Paul Newnham and Chantelle Nicholson for a demonstration and discussion on the Chefs’ Manifesto. The Chefs’ Manifesto is chef-led project that brings together culinary professionals from around the world to explore how they can help deliver a sustainable food system.
Paul Newnham opened the event with a talk about what the Chef’s Manifesto is and why it is important for chefs to bridge the gap between farm and fork. Paul is Director of the SDG 2 Advocacy Hub, an initiative bringing together organisations including NGOs, advocacy groups and UN agencies to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2. Paul led the development and facilitation of the Chefs’ Manifesto by chefs, for chefs
The Chefs’ Manifesto is aligned with the 17 Global Goals for a better world by 2030 - agreed upon by world leaders to end poverty, fight inequality and address the urgency of climate change. They developed 8 thematic areas, aligned with the goals, that chefs are most passionate about working on, including ingredients grown with respect for the earth & its oceans, investment in livelihoods, valuing natural resources & reducing waste and a focus on plant-based ingredients.
Paul revealed that there are 30,000 edible plant varieties but we only grow 150 as crops, and 60% of our calories come from only four crops. To remedy this, the Chefs’ Manifesto aims to connect chefs around the world, engaging them in an open discussion about the future of food. Chefs are in unique position to influence what we grow, put on our plates and how we think and talk about food. Emphasising that it’s not set of rules but rather guidelines to help action change, Paul said it would be unfair to hold everyone to the same standards on a global scale; what may be easy to attain in one area may be very difficult in a different location.
Hosting the practical part of the event was Chantelle Nicholson, Chef Patron at Tredwells and advocate for seasonal eating, zero waste and plant-based eating. In her kitchen, nothing that can be eaten goes in the bin, and any food waste generated is taken away, composted and used as fertiliser for vegetables which will be used in the restaurant. In line with this ideal, Chantelle presented a dish that used every part of the vegetable, in this case cauliflower.
Chef Chantelle prepared Roasted Cauliflower, Pickled Cauliflower Stems, Caper Dressing and Saffron Mayonnaise, an entirely plant-based and zero-waste dish, as every element of the cauliflower was used. One of the challenges she has faced when creating truly great plant-based dishes is replicating the richness of meat or dairy products, so it requires skill to create a well-balanced dish only using plants.
The head of the cauliflower was sliced and roasted, and Chantelle used half to create the base of the dish – a puree with a nutty flavour which emerges when the cauliflower is caramelised well. The saffron mayonnaise - with aquafaba replacing egg - added a richness which was balanced nicely with the cauliflower stem, which was lightly pickled cutting through the deeper flavours of the dish. Finally, the dish was topped off with fried cauliflower leaves, lentils and a tangy caper dressing. The result was beautifully well-rounded, with an array of pleasurable flavour and texture, primarily from the skilful preparation of a humble cauliflower.
Chantelle’s parting message to guests was to be conscious of what you’re doing and to try to minimize your footprint. If you can use something that would otherwise go to waste or start using a reusable water bottle, just do one thing and it will gradually snowball and start to make a difference.
Paul Newnham followed the demonstration with a discussion about biodiversity and sustainable ingredients, referencing the Future 50 Foods Report. Compiled by Knorr and WWF-UK, the report features 50 nutritious plant-based ingredients selected based on their nutritional value and relative impact on the environment. Finally, Paul closed the event by taking questions from guests and summing up the key messaging of the Chefs’ manifesto. He imparted that every change is important, and the more that sustainability is talked about, the more it becomes the norm.
For more information about the Chefs’ Manifesto visit the SDG2 Advocacy Hub, and if you want to learn how to prepare amazing plant-based dishes, why not sign up for the Diploma in Plant-Based Culinary Arts or browse our other Programmes?