Monday, December 11, 2023

Alain Ducasse Brings the First Sustainable Gastronomy Summit to Monaco


The Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse is spearheading the inaugural Sustainable Gastronomy Summit in partnership with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.

Taking place on September 21 at the One Monte-Carlo in Monaco, the Sustainable Gastronomy Summit aims to take a holistic view of the food chain, from its beginnings in soil and sea to its ultimate destination on dinner plates.

A diverse lineup of international figures from various sectors will share insights during the summit. Ducasse, a culinary artist with three Michelin stars, will commence the day’s activities with an opening address at 9 a.m. The summit’s stage will also welcome Sylvia Earle, an American Explorer and Oceanographer, as well as chefs Josh Niland from Sydney and Mauro Colagreco from Menton, both acknowledged experts in their respective fields.

The afternoon session will feature voices such as social and solidarity gastronomy leader David Hertz from South America, New York’s farm-to-table pioneer Dan Barber, and Dieuveil Malonga, a social entrepreneur from Kigali, Rwanda.

Photo courtesy Chris Liverani

“It’s time to change the way we think about food and see it as a way to save the planet and those who live on it,” the Summit This sentiment echoes the growing awareness of the significant environmental impact of food production, which accounts for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Ducasse, who holds 21 Michelin stars, says his focus on sustainable, plant-forward cuisine, started in Monaco. “[I]t dates back to 27 May 1987, the day the Louis XV restaurant was opened at the Hotel de Paris,” he told Monaco Now. “I offered a vegetarian menu, Les Jardins de Provence (The Gardens of Provence). At the time, it was a decision that surprised many people: no one had ever dared to put an entirely vegetarian dish on the menu of a Michelin-starred restaurant. But for me, it was the natural thing to do,” he said.

Plant-based cuisines is reminiscent of the way Ducasse ate as a child on his family farm. His grandmother would send him out to the vegetable garden to collect vegetables for the meals.

“[W]e need to learn – or relearn – to eat healthily while using the resources nature offers us sparingly,” Ducasse said.

The summit is not merely a talking shop but aims to produce tangible outcomes. One of the highlights will be the creation of the Sustainable Food Charter, a guiding document that will involve contributions from culinary school students and be shared with the broader community. The event will be broadcast live online and hosted by French journalist Daphné Roulier.

fresh food
Photo Courtesy Maria Orlova

The summit is particularly timely given its Mediterranean location — a region historically known for its rich culinary tradition. Participants at the event will include scientists, producers, culinary schools, and young leaders dedicated to ecological transition, offering a well-rounded look at the challenges and solutions in the realm of sustainable gastronomy. Themes covered will range from farming, fishing, and climate change to cooking techniques, food education, and the future of gastronomy itself.

The proceedings will wrap up at 7 p.m., following a discussion led by Alice Waters, chef and founder of the Edible Schoolyard Project, on restoring food education, a segment that will also involve students from Ducasse’s culinary school.

“Chefs have an important responsibility,” Ducasse said. “When it comes to customers, it is up to chefs to show that it is possible to eat more healthily without detracting from the enjoyment of a meal. Chefs also have a responsibility to their suppliers. They should promote suppliers who respect the planet,” he said.

“[E]ating more healthily means eating more responsibly, with regard to both producers and nature. The chef’s challenge is to make sure that this virtuous circle is flavourful.”

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