Ever since the inspired and awakening speech that Chef Roy Choi gave at the MAD Symposium in 2013, there has been a noticeably growing collective consciousness within the culinary industry towards social impact and contribution. In his simplicity of conviction, he challenged the best chefs of the world that since by definition, a “chef” is someone whose calling is to nourish and feed people, they should all be feeding more than just the rich elite of the world.
This rally cry seemed to open the eyes of chefs, restaurateurs, and food enthusiasts alike that their craft and obsession could be utilized as more than just for the literal concept of the art. Cooking could be used as a tool for social impact and for the first time, be an acknowledged prerequisite to join the conversation and efforts in unraveling the world’s biggest problems.
In April, Chef David Chang of Momofuku NYC, joined the stage with Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, in a discussion about the World Bank’s pledge to eradicate world poverty and hunger by 2030. Both sides spoke on the unique perspective and expertise that chefs and the culinary world have in helping the World Bank and social organizations achieve this goal. Ranging from food sourcing, culinary science, food waste solutions, and the ability to influence mainstream culture in the way that celebrities and luminaries could only do in the past – the culinary world has suddenly found itself on the world stage as a potential part to the equation of exploring serious and challenging world problems. This would herald a unique multi-disciplinary effort in addressing global needs.
Certainly there also has been a backlash in response to the movement, questioning the validity of a chef’s aptitude in helping to answer age-old global problems that have not yet found sustainable solutions despite centuries of efforts. There is also the need for solemn introspection on motives behind the highly publicized and self-serving tendencies of culinary happenings.
The fact of the matter is that despite an inevitable arrival of self-motivated or insincere outliers within the movement just like with any movement before it, the core motivation houses positive, altruistic, and benevolent intentions. With the participation of honest auditing and critical checks & balances, positive intent can only beget exponential positive energy. Chefs and food enthusiasts alike have heard the calling, and are starting to look outward instead of remaining within the historically accepted practice of self-serving motivations of food and cooking.
Can the culinary world help solve world hunger? Anchored in realism, I’m still excited to see how humanity unfolds. One thing I do know is that collective consciousness, or in normal terms, widespread faith, can create astonishing forces that are oftentimes difficult to explain with logic or reasoning. So instead of naysaying and putting the cart before the horse, let’s place some faith and resources into good intent and see what can result.
Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net