Terra Madre Cooks Speak at Salone del Gusto

A conference at 11am this morning in the Sala Gialla brought together a number of Terra Madre cooks from all over the world to discuss issues concerning the globalization of food, the importance of local products, the mixing of cultures and cuisines, protecting traditions and the fundamental issues facing food today.
Moderating the debate were two academics, Profesor Alberto Capatti, a food historian and Dean of the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo and Colorno, and Professor Marino Niola, an anthropologist at the Istituto Universitario Suor Orsola Benincasa in Naples, together with Slow Food spokesman Giacomo Mojoli.
Professor Capatti opened the conference with a discourse on the links between cuisine and culture, describing cooks as constructing bridges between different identities via food. Cooks are shamans, artists and anthropologists, he said.
The first cook to speak was Francisco Ansilero, from Brazil, who said that cooks have to do what philosophers used to, disseminating new ideas and creating a pathway from the products to the consumers via their restaurants. Then Bruce Sherman, from Chicago in the United States, talked about the importance to him of taking an ingredient and transforming it into something unique and beautiful. Dominique Valadier, from France, said that restaurants must not be prisons for children, and that they, and their parents, must be taught how to consume food.
Toudissa Honor, from Brazzaville, Congo, then talked about his efforts to not only protect Congolese cuisine, but also create it, freeing it from the French colonial influences and rediscovering the local products of the jungle.
The Italian Fabio Picchi, of the restaurant Cibrèo in Florence, ranged widely in his contribution, from an Italian friend of his who makes zebra bresaola in Kenya, to the dangers of a culture of refrigerators where food is stocked and never eaten, to the cultural cross-pollination in Livorno, where Turkish, Spanish, Jewish, Italian and American influnces led to the creation of the soup cacciucco.
The Canadian Sinclair Philip talked about how at his restaurant on Vancouver Island they try to use only local products. The themes of the responsibility of chefs and the need to help small producers were repeated by another Canadian, Sal Howell.
Kunio Tokuoka from Japan also said that it was important to use local products, helping the local economy, and that to him Slow Food served as a cultural exchange. “I have made many new friends here,” he concluded.

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