Young chefs connect to young farmers



I am so happy that we got to work with young chefs and young farmers last weekend at the Slow Food Summit in Wofex at SMX. This was in celebration of Slow Food and Ark of Taste at the country’s biggest food exhibition.

Present were farmers—heirloom rice growers, biodynamic vegetable farmers, grass-fed beef and pig raisers and breeders like Gejo Jimenez of Malipayon Farms, Nicolo Aberasturi of Down To Earth Farms, Chinchin Uy of Fresh Start and Tina Morados of Pamora Farms.

Also attending were chefs like Chefs Jam Melchor, Mickey Garcia, Carlos Villaflor and Cara Lim—mostly below 30 years old—but already part of a movement to make the public aware about Slow Food.

We brought together farmers and chefs and the public to partake of the farmers’ produce which were transformed into special gourmet dishes by these young chefs under the guidance of Chef Chele Gonzalez of Gallery Vask. Carlos Villaflor, Cara Lim and Arrozeria’s Chef Keith Fres¬nido whipped up their specialties using heirloom Tina¬won rice from Ifu¬gao. The upland rice was used for risotto and paella while Chef Chele, a Spaniard, swore by our local rice.

Chefs Jam Mel¬chor and Mickey Garcia spoke in the panel to encourage young chefs to be part of the global movement to serve good, clean and fair food. How does one become a Slow Food advocate? Mickey says: “Go to your farmer’s market or your supermarket and learn to read labels—and check who produced it.” Chef Jam Melchor says, “Use the ingredients from producers you know.”

They are indeed getting younger and starting young to advocate for change in the food system. Maia Romulo-Puyat and Mark Paragas, who both attended the Slow Food event in Turin, Italy, are also encouraging the youth to take up the challenge of eating better and knowing where your food comes from.

If these young chefs are now espousing good, clean and fair food we only ask for older chefs to also give Slow Food a chance in their menus.

The farmers shared their practices with the curious audience who now have better appreciation for how food is grown in an environmentally-friendly manner. Biodynamics, organic agriculture and natural farming are the ways to serve good, clean and fair food and the young ones are listening, too.

Young farmer Chinchin Uy also spoke about growing produce or varieties that he never knew about before. “Negros farmers did not plant basil and arugula before,” he says. Since Chef Gaita Fores told Chinchin about these vegetables, she needs the farmers to start growing them, too. I had the same experience in Amadeo where farmers never saw Aru¬gula growing in their area before until ECHOfarms started planting Arugula and Basil, mint and other herbs. Now, they all know what other varieties of vegetables have a market.

There is much hope in the younger generation of chefs and producers. I am happy knowing that we are able to connect them through the Slow Food movement. The green revolution is happening and there is also a culinary revolution going on—young chefs using local ingredients, not the usual imported quinoa or couscous. But good old Tinawon heirloom rice variety from Ifugao rice terraces.

There are now these young chefs using basil, arugula and hear this—Cadena de Amor flowers which were in Gaita Fores’ kinilaw with kamias. Ige Ramos talked about Blue Ternate flowers that make steamed rice turn blue, and many other creative innovations in cooking. Young minds adapt best. Young minds ready in adopting Slow Food principles.

Now, if only young chefs can meet more young farmers, the next generation is well on its way to continuing our Pinoy Slow Food practices and this will make a better world for their children and generations to come.

Do it slowly, but do it.


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