Last month, The Chef’s Manifesto was launched with great success at GROW HQ as part of the Waterford Harvest Festival. We talked to Conor Spacey, Ambassador of Chef’s Manifesto, about the event, what’s coming next for the Chef’s Manifesto in Ireland and how to get involved.
Back in August, it was announced that GROW HQ, the headquarters of the GIY movement, had been chosen to be the Irish action hub for The Chef’s Manifesto, an international initiative bringing chefs together to help implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for 2030. While it involves seventeen goals related to food, a stronger focus is placed on ending world hunger.
To launch the initiative, a Wasted Supper Club was organised at Grow HQ on Friday, September 6th. This dinner, which was a part of the Harvest Festival in Waterford, saw 50 diners enjoy a meal created entirely from food waste by Grow HQ head chef JB Dubois and Chef’s Manifesto Ambassador Conor Spacey.
From the bin to the plate
“It was fantastic”, says Conor Spacey. “On the Friday night myself, JB and his great team in the kitchen, as well as the fantastic overall Grow HQ team, cooked a 6-course dinner made entirely from food that would have been destined for the bin or at best compost.”
The menu included tomato vines and vegetable tops, flowers and more from the garden, as well as vegetable peels from other hotels in the area. “The idea was to highlight what we see as waste and how it can be turned into fantastic dishes packed with great flavours.”
The reaction and feedback to the event were fantastic. “People were very surprised and also somewhat shocked that the food they enjoyed was diverted from going to waste”, Conor says. “There were a lot of discussions about what they could take from it and introduce to their kitchens and homes.”
The vital role of chefs for more sustainability
The Chef’s Manifesto gives chefs the tools to focus on eight thematic areas, including ingredients grown with respect for the earth and its oceans, protection of biodiversity and animal welfare, reducing waste, a celebration of local, seasonal food and making nutritious food accessible and affordable to all.
“By introducing these eight areas into kitchens, we can truly drive change that can not only help chefs to be more sustainable but can also influence our customers to be more sustainable in their homes,” Conor believes. With their unique position between farmers and consumers, “chefs can play a vital role in fixing our broken food system”, he adds.
What's coming next
After the success of the inaugural event, there is more to come this year for The Chef’s Manifesto. “We have a fantastic event coming up with World Vision in Dublin this October, where we are cooking a three-course dinner for 100 guests. It will also include workshops with students”, Conor says. The dishes will focus on Tanzania, Mauritania, Sierra Leone and Uganda, countries in which World Vision operates Area Programmes and their Maternal and Child Health Programme, AIM Health Plus.
In November, the first of many workshops will take place at Grow HQ. “This will be a two-day event and the initial workshop will introduce chefs to the Sustainable Development Goals and how we can make changes in Ireland through our food system”, Conor explains. There will also be panel discussions about soil health and biodiversity. “Our workshops are always based around food, so throughout the day the chefs prepare dishes using ingredients that are sustainable. It gives them a chance to discuss and debate more around a table through food.”