As a nation, we waste 40 percent of the food we produce and yet more than 48 million Americans won’t know where there next meal is coming from. We live in a world where our marine life is becoming addicted to eating plastic, and where nearly every nation on the planet fails to provide sustainable food resources. The global culinary topography is constantly shifting and at the EAT forum held every year in Stockholm, solutions are discussed.
Marcus Samuelsson is a chef, TV personality, and member of the culinary advisory board for EAT. Changing how the world talks about and consumes food is one of his passions. We spoke with chef Samuelsson about how he intends to continue the dialogue when it comes to feeding future generations and nourishing the planet.
What will be covered at this year's EAT forum?
The EAT conference is founded by my partner. We always want to talk about [the questions of] where does your food come from and how does it get to you? We have a certain responsibility. I will talk about what I learned and how I will update my restaurants. Here at the EAT conference my restaurant menus will be vegetarian-dominated. The conference is about teaching others, but it’s [also] about holding up a mirror and how we can change ourselves.
What responsibility do you feel, as a well-known chef, to add to the conversation about sustainable food?
Whatever you do as a chef you want to do the best practice, you want to serve your customers and community in a better way. The best practice for me is to look at the environment as an ingredient in my food. We [at Red Rooster] are not only local, but we know how ingredients get to us. When you have a lot of restaurants, that makes a massive impact. In Harlem, I think about how to use the farmers market and urban gardens. In Sweden, it’s more of a tech thing and we look at how technology can provide us with better ingredients. I’m not about to create a totally vegetarian menu, but it’s about starting a dialogue.
What do you think the future of food sustainability will look like and how will it impact the restaurant business?
This is what’s important: I’m talking food waste and making conscious decisions about ingredient usage. We need to think about [the] past, present, and future constantly. The past is setting up these moments the customer can understand and be part of, the present is here and now how can we acknowledge our eco system? And the future will be hopefully improved by better technology. Food and tech will get closer together.
How do you fight food waste on an everyday basis?
There are many ways to attack food waste. You roast the chicken, and then you have a chicken soup, chicken dumplings, etc. Don’t waste any part of the chicken. My grandmother taught me to cook that way and I will continue to do so. As chefs we think about that constantly. We’ve learned a lot over the years.
What do you still need to improve or learn as a chef and consumer?
Many things. When I started cooking, most of my ideas only came from France and obviously today that’s not the case. No one cares where the best idea comes from; it just matters that’s good. For instance, I am installing a new oil system today that will strain the oil we use so we can re-filter it and reuse it. The suppliers buy back the old oil so it becomes recyclable. When you build a restaurant you need to create the best practices. This is way beyond getting a good review from a critic, this is, “How can we help the environment and make the community better?” The filter system we have now came from Sweden, actually.