"The most important value in life is being able to interact with people and the knowledge we share with them. That's what hospitality is and that's the value of what we do and the impact we leave on them". Continue the conversation with Chef Clare Smyth at PX+ Festival, 24-27 August.
"I had always cooked outside, I was cooking on wood...Lee Tiernan was one of the first people that said 'you should be in the restauarant industry'". Mark Parr and Julian Brown, London Log Co will be in the court yard at PX+, continue the conversation with them!
Alessandro Porcelli, founder of acclaimed international gathering Cook It Raw, will curate Let’s Talk About It: Community. Celebration. Change.
Let’s Talk About It will consist of talks, panel discussions, informal gatherings, where creative minds share their stories and experiences. Based on dialogue, reflection, experimentation and collaboration, the ultimate goal is to make an assessment of the current state of the hospitality trade and open the way for change. The discussions will tackle some of the most pressing contemporary industry issues.
We will celebrate artisans, farmers, chefs, producers, food business innovators and responsible consumers - the many components of a community gelled together by real connection with best practices - both agricultural and in the industry, with environmental issues and traditional cooking methods.
The food system and the trade around it belong integrally to such multifaceted community, and this sense of participated, non-hierarchical, proactive ownership is what we want to dig out: a new, holistic interpretation of food sovereignty.
Ultimately, we want to promote a restaurant culture based on collaboration, education, empathy, and a connected community behind the industry.
At Let’s Talk About It, new inspiring stories will emerge, aimed at identifying, describing, and mapping iconic people, places, traditions and inspirations.
Our activities will unfold around 3 underlying threads seamlessly throughout the weekend: food sovereignty, an assessment of the restaurant trade, and looking ahead. The format is fluid and interactive, with different perspectives and competencies being represented, from direct experts to exponents of particular sectors to the general public, in a truly multi-disciplinary effort.
What purpose has the restaurant sector served in recent year? Entertainment, hedonism, celebration of high-end gastronomy, but also education, attention to best practices and sustainability. These latter engagements must increase and become organic, rather than sporadic and promoted only by a handful of enlightened chefs. This talk will explore these issues and bring the thinking forward: how about imagining the restaurant of the future. How about really thinking outside of the box and unhinge the granted pillars restaurants are built on: clear definition of roles (service/customers), spaces (dining room/kitchen), and mission (feed/entertain people). We are going to let imagination run wild here, and lay the conceptual bases for the future restaurants to be a fluid, multifaceted space at the epicenter of a connected, engaged community, sovereign and empowered over its own food system.
Where do the distinct kaleidoscope of flavours that make a dish, a wine, or a whiskey stand out, come from? The skills of the artisan behind them, the quality of the raw materials… but before that all, soil gives life to such products. In this talk we address both the actual but also the symbolic value of soil, some African cultures even eat it. We will discuss the importance for quality agriculture to keep soil healthy and alive, the real meaning of terroir outside labels and marketing, and the necessity for biodynamic and other soil-enhancing farming, especially in relation to flavours!
Change always starts from awareness and education. Apart from school, there is no better place than work to educate a new class of progressive and conscious food, beverage, and farming professionals. We will discuss how an integrated farm, a restaurant, or an innovative business can and must nurture personal growth and bring teams towards an all-encompassing understanding of quality, engaged gastronomy.
Biodiverse and endangered local ancient grains are at the core of the gastronomic identity of a place - a high example of quality local foods in opposition to the standardised commodity grains from industrial production. Thus, bringing back value to them is at the core of food sovereignty. Beside their use in bakery goods, biodiverse grains lend themselves to many other creative and inspirational ideas in cocktail making, craft beer brewing, and distilled spirits. Alternative, experimental ideas like these are the type of innovations that help the wider society take full ownership, control, and awareness of its own food potential. This is food sovereignty, which is different - and wider - from other forms of food system improvements such as food security and justice. We will delve into these intriguing nuances at length.
“Farm to table” is a beautiful concept which served a great purpose, but which is in need of an update, or better, an elevation. This talk tackles the building and handling of a quality and responsible supply chain where hyper localism isn’t a necessary obsession. The role of retailers too needs a move forward, bringing focus on high-quality and sustainable regional farmers, producers and artisans. In this talk, innovative and committed people behind food distribution and retail will take us to a new definition of “short” supply chain. Not just at short distance from production, but also at short symbolic distance from the community’s and consumers’ interests and sensibility.
In Friday’s talk we aired an idea for the restaurant of the future: a fluid, multifaceted space at the epicentre of a connected, engaged community, sovereign and empowered over its own food system. As roles and spaces blur, what is going to be the new front house? At the service of the chef, of the customers, and with both demands and orders. We are going to give this an overhaul, as there is no room in our future restaurant idea for hierarchy, aggression, competition, and sharp role separation. The front of house will be the essential link between the restaurant and the wider community. It will promote and coordinate participated activities in order to generate mutual engagement between the front and the back of the restaurant.
If there is one thing that torments the soul and heart of food activists and experts it is that the developed world is spending less and less of the family budget in at-home food, as a result of ever cheaper (and harmful) industrial food, and diminishing interest in home cooking. We are going to look carefully at this trend and try to uncover possible subtle consequences. For example, as a result of lower at-home expenditure, consumers have larger budgets to eat out, and this might have an impact on the restaurant scene. In particular around the restaurant model substituting at-home eating: no-frills, lean, creative but not sensational. Can this trend stimulate offers and innovation? Should these strive to become more integrated in the community fabric, and serve the purpose of responsible, quality, but simple and affordable away-from-home eating?
Here we will put together a critical and articulated discussion of the most challenging and stimulating ideas arisen from the weekends talks, and we brainstorm and plant seeds for future editions of PX+.