Theme: The role food has played in the past and shifts in thought about food waste
You’ve had a diverse career in gastronomy, and in recent years, have earned your spot among the best. We’d like to speak with you a bit about how food has played a role in your life, how situations you’ve encountered in the past have shaped your thoughts on food, and how the world has begun to shift today. Food is a subject that everyone enjoys talking about - why do you think that is the case? Food has fed humans and their spirit for centuries. Food nurtures and is sacred. It identifies peoples and cultures.
So, what attracted you to become a chef and enter a competitive and stressful line of work?
My father was also a chef. Being a chef is a sharing job. We work to give pleasure to people. It’s a great opportunity and a fascinating job that allows you to learn constantly. Food waste has always been present in gastronomy. When did it start to become a real enough concern for the industry to start to combat it? Only a few years ago, the industry became aware of the need to avoid waste, for ecological and economic reasons. In the word “ecological” there is “logic”! Have you seen an attitude shift in the way chefs purchase, repurpose, and store food to extend its shelf life? Chefs buy more reasonable quantities and suppliers are also adapting to this reality. Chefs are finally anticipating more than just their needs and also find ways to recycle and repurpose what that they use.
I understand you spent some time in military kitchens where homogenous meals were made daily for many people. What did you see in the kitchen that surprised you most?
Not much surprised me, except that to have strong soldiers with good morale, you have to feed them properly! By the way, always keep this in mind for your staff, friends, and family. Hygiene and safety standards have regulated how restaurants work to minimize infection and poisoning. In your opinion, what is the next regulation that will be implemented in the F&B industry? I think that a job well done must anticipate rules and laws. Common sense must prevail. I think humans need to eat less and much better, so that above all, the planet’s resources are equitably shared.
You’ve chosen to move into education. Is there a specific reason that pulled you in that direction?
The need to share. I do believe that the younger generation are the ones who will have the greatest challenge to feed the world in 30 years. Demographic studies show that it will be seriously necessary to anticipate needs. So if I can help a bit...
Through your extensive travels promoting programs in the hospitality field, can you think of a moment where you were most impressed with a situation or person or country in how they worked with food?
In Asia and Africa, I discovered extraordinary cooking methods and flavors. The happiness of my job is to unceasingly discover products, techniques, spices, and different cultures. We meet the identity of a country and its people through their diet. I am always impressed each time I discover a new situation. My last emotional reflection brings me back to Sri Lanka with a special dish called Kotthu roti. When they make it, they cut it very quickly on special iron equipment. It was the very first time that the sound of a preparation led me to a restaurant.
What’s the next vital step you think will make a real difference in cost savings for the F&B industry? Are you hopeful?
Before you want to make money, you have to be careful not to lose it. Always keep this in mind. Once again, good sense must prevail. This is the difference between professionals and great professionals.
And lastly, when you broke a Guinness world record for baking the largest pie in the world, how much did it weigh, and did any go to waste?
The weight was about 86 kilos, serving around 700 portions. What is very clever with this kind of meat pie or “pâté en croute” is to season your meat correctly, and add them into the pie. In this case, there was no waste at all! During a large event like this, believe me, everyone wanted to be a part of it. Someone even told me, “Chef, it’s as if I had a stone from the Berlin wall.” Can you imagine?
About Mr. Fabien Pairon
Senior Lecturer - Practical Arts – Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne
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