From October 4th to 7th, the chefs of Relais et Châteaux take part in the international Menu For Change initiative to relay the essential message that combating climate change begins on the plate!
What if gastronomy had the power to influence agriculture and every link in the food value chain? 30% of greenhouse gas emissions are directly related to the food we eat: livestock farming, transportation and arable agriculture all have their ongoing effect. By changing that, we can all make our own practical contribution to combating climate change... and these chefs are leading by example. Through their 2014 manifesto commitment to UNESCO, Relais & Châteaux members are taking positive action to protect the environment and local heritage. Founded in 1986, Slow Food association began fighting the battle to promote 'good, clean and fair food for all', a mantra Relais & Châteaux profoundly supports. Because in this fight, everything is linked ; using seasonal produce and favoring local producers is as good for flavor as it is for the planet. As Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini points out: “The food we put on our plates plays an even larger role in climate change than the cars we buy.”
To help the chefs quantify the carbon balance of the menu accurately, Bon pour le Climat (Good for Climate), the non-profit organization formed in 2014, provides an eco-calculator. Its President Jean-Luc Fessart details the key actions to be implemented: “The biggest impact comes from working with the seasons, so that we don’t import ingredients from the other side of the world. Then comes the need to drastically reduce the quantities of animal protein we consume, especially beef: the ideal balance is to reverse the traditional proportions so that two-thirds of a meal is vegetables, and one-third is meat or fish...” Nevertheless, local sourcing doesn’t necessarily exclude spices, chocolate or coffee: “For products like these, we apply the Marco Polo exception: where no substitute exists, we use small quantities.” Another area of reassessing and making maximum use of food, and one where the creativity of chefs is particularly welcome, is legumes. “Beneficial not only to the soil, where they act as natural fertilizers, but also for our health, because they are rich in protein and fiber, lentils, chickpeas and beans suffer from a rather down-market image.” By celebrating these products in their dishes, Relais & Châteaux chefs are able to attract attention to these products and encourage people to eat them. This is a new responsibility for cooks, and one that makes them proactive stakeholders in food-related economic and social change.
In giving their commitment to work alongside the Slow Food association, Relais & Châteaux chefs are supporting the move to good, clean, fair food on a daily basis. The Menu for Change initiative means that the plates of food they serve are now doing something practical to counter the tide of climate change.
ZACHARY LADWIG, CHEF OF THE INN AT DOS BRISAS IN TEXAS (USA) “We’re lucky enough to be able to grow more than a hundred types of produce ourselves, and because we do, we respect it that much more. Having 32 different varieties of sweet potato means being able to taste them all, so our farm is a source of creativity and enthusiasm. Our Farm General Manager makes sure that many sentinel species included in the Slow Food Ark of Taste are conserved and protected here, including the Bourbon Red turkeys we serve at Thanksgiving, the Cherokee Purple tomato and even the Marseille Figs, which have been grown here since the 19th century. To make sure we have them all year round, we preserve them in white wine, honey and fennel, which makes them a fantastic accompaniment to veal sweetbreads with golden ball turnips.”
MAR SUAU (OWNER) AND RAFAEL PERELLÓ (CHEF) OF SON BRULL IN POLLENÇA (MALLORCA, SPAIN) “We have embraced the values of Slow Food since 2010. Our responsibility as hotelier and cook is to play our part in ensuring the future of local producers and heritage varieties. For the Food for Change menu, we’re preparing blinis made with Xeixa flour: this ancient variety of wheat originates in Mallorca, and had all but disappeared, but is now grown using biodynamic techniques. Its flour is dark and delicious. We’re also offering Barbary Fig sorbet. This fruit is part of our landscape, and is an absolute treasure. We also use it on a daily basis in our spa, because it forms the basis of the fresh, organic treatments we prepare ourselves... just like a food recipe!”
OLIVIER NASTI, CHEF AT LE CHAMBARD IN KAYSERSBERG (FRANCE) “Between 80 and 90% of the produce we use comes from within a 20-mile radius. The snails from ‘Le Pré aux colimaçons’ run by the Huss family on the high slopes of the Kaysersberg valley are farmed using biodynamic principles on land weeded entirely by hand. The taste of snails in garlic butter - a real and abiding memory of childhood - is reinterpreted in the form of a croquette finished with intensely green parsley breadcrumbs. I’ve also chosen to offer a vegetarian dish that showcases Alsace sauerkraut, which has just been awarded IGP status. I’m particularly fond of the new sauerkraut, which is tender and more colorful. You really can deliver as much pleasure on the plate using vegetables as you can with meat or fish, and being constrained to working solely with vegetables has really opened my eyes!”
ANDREAS KROLIK, CHEF AT RESTAURANT LAFLEUR (GERMANY) A member of Slow Food since 2007, chef Andreas Krolik acts to protect local species and biodiversity on a daily basis, mainly from the close relationships he maintains with all his producers, most of whom are committed to organic principles. “Whether wild or cultivated, the humble mushroom is both sustainable and delicious: the flexibility of its textures is stunning. Mushrooms make it possible to prepare a complete pallets of flavors and textures: spicy, semi-sour, umami, roasted, creamed, marinated, preserved... and more. Married with a squash ravioli, and served with cabbage and quinoa, a wild mushroom broth provides the link and depth necessary for a vegetarian dish, and bringing something very special to the "Menu for Change".
Launched by Slow Food in 2017, the #FoodForChange campaign is designed to take urgent action to combat climate change. a part of everyday life. This ambition poses a very real challenge to the world’s cooks. From October 4th to 7th, Relais & Châteaux chefs will take part in an international initiative called Menu for Change to relay the essential message that combating climate change begins on the plate! By offering Slow Food approved menus that promote sustainable ingredients (local, seasonal and increasingly focused on vegetables), the organization Relais & Châteaux is raising public awareness of the quality and provenance of each ingredient, and giving the work done by chefs greater resonance in all our daily lives.