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Ben Shewry, Mark Best and JP Mahon
Events

Food On The Edge 2019: The Best Moments According To Chefs

Élodie Noël rounds up post-symposium thoughts on this year's event.

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We asked some of the chefs who attended Food On The Edge 2019 what they will take home from this year’s seminar, and what particularly stroke a cord for them.

The 2019 edition of Food On The Edge took place earlier this week in NUI Galway. For its fifth year, the two-day convention gathered Irish and international chefs to listen, talk and provoke debate about the future of food in the restaurant industry and on our planet. This year once again, the speakers included some of the world’s biggest names in gastronomy, who took the stage to address the themes of migration, food waste, the wellbeing of chefs or food education. 

The event is also a great occasion for attendees to network and learn about the work of other chefs around the world. We asked some of them what they will take home from the symposium and what moments felt the most inspirational. 

Bryan McCarthy, Head Chef of Greenes Restaurant, Cork

"I particularly liked [Australian chef] Matt Stone talking about the closed-loop system and how you can generate power from your waste. I think the sustainability issue has been talked about an awful lot, but actually putting it into practice hasn’t. I recently completed my own house and put in a new ecological heating system among other things and I think that’s the way forward. Restaurants need to stop doing things as cheaply as possible and say actually, let’s spend a bit more money and make our business environmentally friendly - and also more financially viable by eliminating cost. When the technology is becoming more mainstream, that’s becoming the way forward. "

"Secondly, I have to mention Alberto Landgraf’s speech, his story about migration and how it affects us, and especially the part about Brazilian people. We have about 12 or 15 Brazilian people working for us and they just fit into Irish society so well, they become good friends. It’s amazing how cultures can travel the world, integrate seamlessly and carry the same desires and the same will to do good. With climate change and some places in the world becoming uninhabitable, migration is going to become a bigger topic." 

Matt Stone, Chef of The Greenhouse, Perth, Australia

"Bringing a global community together is a really special thing, I’m getting to talk to people that I don’t usually get to talk to, for example, Mark [Best] and I live in the same country and we never hang out, and we end up doing it over here." 

"The biggest thing I’m going to take away from this is a reassurance that we are doing the right thing already. Sometimes we get caught up in our little world and start questioning if it’s worth pushing as hard as we are. Sharing ideas and seeing that everyone is going through the same thing is giving me encouragement to keep going and keep doing more for our environment."

"Ben Shewry’s talk about Indigenous Australians was special, it’s just a f*cked up situation, and going through the school system in Australia, we are told lies. Uncle Bruce, who Ben referenced quite a few times, I’ve read his book three times now, and it dismisses some of those lies. It took a lot of courage from Ben to go up and talk about that. I think he had to go on a global stage to have that talk, it wouldn’t have gone down so well in Australia but when it’s online and people can see it, I think it’s going to have a big impact."  

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Mark Best, Australian chef and TV host

“It’s the buzz of this room, the camaraderie, the beautiful people of Galway. I love their charm, their warmth, their openness, their honesty, it’s the biggest takeaway from the entire event for me.”

Rosio Sanchez, Head Chef of Hija de Sanchez, Copenhagen, Denmark

“I came here to talk about migration, and sometimes I feel like it’s a little boring when I talk about myself and my story, but then I listen to everybody and see that we have the same kind of stories. I feel like they are all very interesting so it’s giving me a little bit more confidence. Each story makes so much sense.”

Jordan Bailey, Head Chef of Aimsir, Kildare

“To be honest, of course, the talks are amazing and very inspiring to listen to, but for me, it’s also about the times that are between the talks and after. Especially after the dinners, when everybody has got a beer in their hands and conversations flow a lot freely - there are the times that I feel are the most impactful because you can really talk to people you admire, look up to, someone who was a previous mentor. You can have conversations about issues that you can take home with you and really use then for yourself and your own restaurant.”  

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Alex Atala, Head Chef of D.O.M., São Paulo, Brazil

“My favourite talk was from Selassie Atadika [Head Chef of Midunu, in Accra, Ghana]. The way she talked about her issues, and the fact that it's time we acknowledge the cuisines of Africa, I felt a lot of connections with what we are dealing with in Brazil and with my proper experience.”

Prateek Sadhu, Head Chef of Masque, Mumbai, India

“It’s great to see how we are making a difference in our own countries, in terms of how we shape the food system and how we see the future of the food. Is it going to be more sustainable, are we going to teach kids in schools how to grow food? We need to go home with all those thoughts and start making some changes."

Denis Lovatel, Head Chef of Pizzeria Ezio, Alano di Piave, Italy

“I will remember that we are a big community, a big family, we share the same ideas and the same points of view. Of course coming from different countries, we have different solutions but in the end, all the chefs are fighting for the same thing, which is to support sustainability and protect the environment. We are not alone in this and if we are united, step by step, day after day, things will change. Food is our job first, but it’s also our passion, and we have to show this passion to our clients and to teach them about sustainability. I going back home with new colleagues, new friends, and with the hope to keep exchanging with them until next year.”

Karan Mittal, Head Chef of Ananda, Dublin

“Food On The Edge has always been quite inspirational for me, with all the amazing chefs coming from all over the world. It’s a great platform to learn about the stories of those chefs. I will surely take home a lot of information, knowledge, and inspiration.”

“I had two favourite talks - Ben Shewry and Prateek Sadhu. Ben Shewry is one of the best chefs in the world and it was great to learn from him about the work-life balance and the importance of your traditions and native indigenous ingredients. Prateek Sadhu really highlighted the vast cuisine of India and its diversity. He talked about the fact that India is perceived as a curry nation and how it’s not true. Indian cuisine is such a complex cuisine based on ingredients, season and region.”

Bledar Kola, Head Chef of Mullixhiu restaurant, Tirana, Albania

“What I will take home from this event is a sense of collaboration and the friendliness of the people in Ireland. The talks that resonated the most for me was from Daniel Giusti [about his work in institutional kitchens], I felt it very inspiring. Also, I enjoyed Ebru Demir’s talk about the importance of soil. I think these talks really connected us with the spirit of humanity and showcased possible changes for people whose issue is to survive.”

Brian McDermott, Head Chef of The Foyle Hotel, Donegal

"Given the variety of the speakers, one thing that certainly comes out of it for me is the mindfulness, taking care of yourself, taking care of others within the kitchen environment. When you are in a kitchen, you are in the heat, in the stress; we can change that immediate effect it has on staff and say to them, relax, we are cooking food, we are meant to enjoy this and we are here to give people a good time." 

"The other nugget that I’m taking away is a big focus on fish and seafood this year. This whole idea of fish butchering and using more of the fish, that is worth the price of a ticket alone. Last year, there was this Nordic and Icelandic feel that was coming in that maybe felt a bit cold to us, but now that we are embracing our coastline and our weather and the impact that, in a positive way, it can have on our food, it has taken a step further - from addressing taking the fish out of the water, what to actually do with it, and how to get the best out of it."

Padraic Óg Gallagher, Restaurateur of The Boxty House, Dublin, Chef and Craft Brewer

"I loved Josh Niland's talk on Fish Butchery and I just thought it's so relevant to us. Not only about how much fish we use and how much is just thrown back into the ocean, but even in the restaurant, I am going to get my guys now instead of bringing in different cuts to bring in whole fish all the time and making sure we're using the bones for stock, and in general just doing more with the whole fish. One of the things I love is butchery, and having the space to do that, so applying that to fish now is going to be exciting. I'll be implementing a good few changes."