World’s best chefs launch Chefs for Change movement

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On Sunday 17 June, three of the world’s best chefs, Joan Roca, Eneko Atxa and Gaggan Anand, will join forces with Nicolas Mounard, Chief Executive of international NGO Farm Africa, to launch Chefs for Change, a movement that bridges the gap between two very different worlds: high-end cuisine and international development.

Presenting at the #50BestTalks at the Basque Culinary Center in San Sebastian, one of a series of events leading up to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in Bilbao on 19 June, the chefs will speak about how agriculture is the vital ingredient uniting the world’s best chefs and the planet’s most remote rural communities. They will explain their motivation for collaborating with the NGOs Farm Africa and TechnoServe to found Chefs for Change and call on fellow élite chefs to join them as ambassadors for development projects that transform lives of rural food producers through sustainable farming.

Joan Roca, chef at El Celler de Can Roca in Girona in northern Spain, which has twice been ranked No 1 restaurant in the world, commented:

“A dish is much more than the sum of its ingredients. If we consider its sourcing, we see that every ingredient has been created by a varied cast of human characters involved in every step of the food’s journey from land to the plate. The Chefs for Change movement wants to give a voice to these rural food producers and their life stories, and empower them to grow.”

Gaggan Anand, chef at Gaggan, which has been named No 1 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for four consecutive years, added:

“I am proud to help spearhead a movement that celebrates the power of agriculture to transform the lives of small-scale food producers, without whom my profession would be impossible.”

Eneko Atxa, chef at the Basque restaurant Azurmendi, at which diners inspect the home-grown produce in the rooftop vegetable garden before they eat, concluded:

“The story of food is the story of agriculture. Yet too many farmers worldwide are held back by poverty, environmental degradation, climate change and lack of access to markets. In joining Chefs for Change, I am honoured to play a part in showcasing the potential of sustainable agriculture to reduce poverty in the world’s most remote communities.”

Chefs joining Chefs for Change will each become an ambassador for a high-impact agricultural development project implemented by Farm Africa and TechnoServe. The movement will follow the journeys of the chefs as they travel out of the kitchen and onto farms participating in the projects in countries including Ethiopia, Tanzania, Peru, Honduras, India, Zambia and Benin. In the coming months, each of the chefs will visit their projects and share the stories of the farmers they meet. 

Chefs for Change will report annually on how the projects are contributing to achieving one or more of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim to end extreme poverty, hunger, inequality and injustice, and fix climate change by 2030. Since 2016, the Roca Brothers have been working with the United Nations Development Programme both in field programmes such as Food Africa and also raising awareness of the SDGs. “Now it’s time to unite as a global community of chefs, and go further. With Chefs for Change we are not only telling stories, we are working today to achieve a sustainable food system for today’s generations and generations to come,” said chef Joan Roca.

William Drew, Group Editor at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, commented:

“The World’s 50 Best Restaurants is proud to support Farm Africa and the Chefs for Change initiative and to provide a platform for the chefs involved through our #50BestTalks event to the chefs involved. Farm Africa has been the official charity of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants for almost a decade and we truly believe in the fantastic work that this organisation does in collaboration with increasing numbers of the world’s leading chefs.”

Nicolas Mounard, Farm Africa’s CEO, commented:

“We are thrilled to work with the world’s best gastronomic innovators in transforming the lives of the world’s most remote rural food producers. The story of food is inextricably linked with farming, a sector that employs over a billion people globally. By uniting in support of sustainable agriculture together we can reduce poverty, achieve gender equality, empower women and improve nutrition among the millions of small-scale farmers worldwide.”

William Warshauer, President and CEO of TechnoServe, added: "TechnoServe is proud to partner with Farm Africa and these forward-thinking chefs to take the 'farm-to-table' story to a whole new level. With the majority of the world's poor dependent on farming for an income, agriculture is the most important sector for reducing poverty worldwide. We look forward to helping build the connections that will improve incomes, opportunities and futures for these hardworking men and women around the world."

Samuel Viney