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Blog: The role of fine dining in eradicating food poverty

The story of F E A S T E D began in 2017 from a humble social media post asking if anyone wanted soup and bread. From this to bespoke dinner parties, engagement work with schools, consultancy and their unique Chef’s Table experience, F E A S T E D has always had ambition at the core of every event and activity it has provided. In this month’s Blog, hear from their founder Cris Cohen who gives us his view on the role of fine dining in eradicating food poverty.

Fine dining and gastronomy: Definitions

Gastronomy is defined by google as “the practice or art of choosing, cooking, and eating good food. The cooking of a particular area”. To clarify, Gastronomy is used when referring to dining at a higher quality which is why we often use the term interchangeably with fine dining.

Gastronomy and food poverty: the connection 

There is a commonplace mindset that gastronomy and food poverty are worlds apart. But what if they’re not? Accepting that gastronomy and food poverty are far more connected than we would like to believe will actually allow us to address the latter. Let us explain how…

Cooking can be a wasteful process

It’s obvious. Life is busy and in the domestic setting it’s easy to allow food waste to occur. Trust us on this, it’s the same in cooking in restaurants. Especially those who give you large plates of food. The food waste is off the scale. The UK wastes an estimated 9.5 million tonnes of food every year. 4 billion children are now thought to fall within food poverty. As an industry, we have the power to do something about this. It’s more than reducing waste, it’s also about how we prow and procure food locally and in the UK.

Chefs have the power to help communities

Many restaurants are in crisis. During the pandemic, hospitality looked to help people by feeding the communities and the NHS. Our industry also became very creative in the way we sought to reach those who wanted to have great dining experiences in their own homes.

As an industry we craved ‘the returns to normal’ to find that normal was changing with escalating costs and an employment crisis.

Feasted believe in chefs sharing their skills with communities. The confinement of chefs to the kitchen serves no one, especially not the community.

The hospitality industry had an opportunity to embrace the changes thrust upon it but wished too hard to return to a ‘normal’ far from perfect. What can we say, as an industry we have been burned.

I’ve spent time in London working with educational bodies on developments for the future of hospitality education. Sounds great hey? Not the case…

What is staggeringly real is our industry’s unwillingness to change with big hitters having so much say about where education leads hospitality. That would work if there was a greater ambition with higher end operators. But sadly they don’t have the reach or budgets that the fast food industry has.

The truth is that the problems we all face in business and domestically around food are currently far too convenient for those with big investment.

Bringing food poverty and gastronomy together. How?

So what next? We are going to be investing time into helping chefs become more aware of the many nuances around food and to have a broader understanding of the industry so that they can grow within it. In turn, this will enable people to create businesses in the future that truly value what it means to cook and the power it holds.

Understanding gastronomy and food poverty in the context of our kitchens means that we can educate and make real a difference. There is no better place to do this than in Stoke-on-Trent; a city focused so much on what we don’t have. Why not embrace this as a challenge to create a better food system in our city from within?

There is enough food waste created every day to feed every hungry person. It’s clear we can all do better.

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