By Isabel Terry

Findings from S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition reveal the regional differences in how tomorrow’s top chefs may shape our food system for the better

With the global food industry in a state of unprecedented disruption due to COVID-19, the future of hospitality may look uncertain, but critical issues relating to food such as climate impact, biodiversity, poverty and food waste will sadly still be there when we recover.

As part of our work judging the Social Responsibility Award at this year’s S. Pellegrino Young Chef competition, Food Made Good Global has been given a unique insight into how the leading chefs of tomorrow view the challenges we face within our food system. We know that when we eventually return to some form of normal, chefs can be powerful advocates to inspire and engage with huge audiences on the issues that matter to them which is why Food Made Good Global and S. Pellegrino Young Chef believe that recognising and providing a platform to the rising talent of tomorrow can be crucial in helping to secure a more sustainable food future.

The chefs recognised by this award and featured in the Future of Sustainable Gastronomy report have won their regional heats, beating off the challenge from thousands of other aspiring chefs and tackling some of the today’s toughest issues through their cooking. From creating zero waste dishes to using ingredients normally considered waste, promoting cultural heritage and championing vegetables over meat, there are some great examples of dishes representing a positive food future.

But while the winners demonstrated excellence and are deserving of their awards, the judging revealed a huge variety in the regional response to issues such as food waste, the importance of locality and a legacy focus on meat as the primary ingredient.

The chefs of tomorrow have a responsibility to reimagine gastronomy in a world tackling crises including climate change, biodiversity loss, inequality and obesity and recognise that in their role as the architects of food culture, they wield enormous power to define delicious and decisively shift the way we eat.

Information & findings:

  • Dishes were judged using a set of criteria developed specifically for this new award, based on Food Made Good’s 10 years of experience.
  • Criteria included: climate change, resource use, collaboration, innovation, advocacy, biodiversity, food waste & nutrition.
  • From thousands of applicants 135 regional finalists were selected, each of whom were judged against FMG’s eight criteria. Each dish was given a score between 0 and 40, and 12 regional winners were determined.
  • Of the 12 winners, there was an even split by gender, with 6 male and 6 female winners.
  • There was significant regional variation in terms of sustainability issues; dishes in North America and Asia were more meat heavy than those in Europe. Whilst chefs in Europe and the Pacific were a lot more likely to mention locality than those in Latin America and Greater China.
  • The issue of food waste highlighted the differences in awareness, with 70% of chefs from the Pacific region mentioning food waste, whilst none in Italy & Southern Europe or Central Europe mentioned the issue.

Food Made Good Global CEO, Simon Heppner, adds “Encouraging chefs early on in their careers means that the industry becomes better placed to deal with the ever-growing challenges that it faces, and demonstrates how some of tomorrow’s leading chefs are taking a stand on these crucial issues today. Those chefs who are using their platform to champion less climate intensive diets, manage food waste responsibly and reduce their food waste are all directly contributing to a better food future.”

You can view the report here: The Future of Sustainable Gastronomy