I was asked to give the opening talk at a Chiasma recently held in Dundee by Design in action to bring together academics, research students and people from the food industry to brainstorm ideas for our future food
I began by telling them I was a dreamer….
I am a dreamer and I have followed dreams most of my life. I am a great fan of Tove Janson’s books on Momintroll, a moomin who is interested in everything he sees and finds the world wonderfully exciting and wants be involved in everything
On Twitter recently a food writing colleague Sybil Kapoor described us moomin fans as dreamers who still believe there is a bit of magic in the world. Take this idea with you as you start this exciting session
I am a dreamer and I dream of a Scotland where every one is healthy, eats properly, interacts well with others enjoys our beautiful country.
I am a chef by training, spending three years in the kitchens of the Savoy hotel in London which when I started had 100 cuisiniers, we had no labour saving machines except a huge Hobart mixer and mincer, Soups were passed through sieves with the back of a ladle, no food processors no cling film! When I moved on from the kitchens there were 60, The changes we see are constant and to survive we need to constantly be aware of what they are and how they impact on our businesses.
After the Savoy I worked in a number of places but ended up back in Scotland running an hotel in Argyll where I found the produce to be of outstanding quality, and really I have been trying to encourage us Scots to discover and use it ever since!
Quick fire changes in food since the 1980’s Monkfish then was often used as a fake scampi , breaded etc but now its probably as expensive as prawns. Squat lobsters were also some thing no one used
Shortly after that PORTSONACHAN
I think we have been let down by the food industry where profit has taken precedence over people I work with Love food hate waste who constantly remind us
Scottish households throw away 566,000 tonnes of food waste every year. Over two thirds of this could have been avoided if it had been more effectively planned, stored and managed. Avoidable food waste costs Scotland nearly £1 billion, that’s the equivalent of £430 per household!
The food scandals of horsemeat and contaminated salads from the continent have hit the headlines and our trust of the statutory bodies placed there to protect us by flagging up standards and safety have failed us even more.
I am a dreamer
I opened a business in 1995 called Scotland’s Larder it was designed to tell us Scots what we had on our doorstep, nothing short of the best food in the world I had a restaurant selling superb ingredients simply prepared in season. We ran cooking demos to show people how to cook and prepare these things. We invited guests to celebrate things in season Lady Claire Macdonald – strawberries
Sandy Pattullo then the only Scottish Asparagus producer
Johnny Noble Loch Fyne Oysters
Nick Nairn to name but a few
Sadly it appeared I was ahead of my time. I had little support from the council, the enterprise companies and none from government I closed in 2002 as the RBS made more money from the business than me
lesson – as you ponder the future trust no one!
Today the banks are not trusted
Here’s and idea start an ethical one! Any one remember what the Coop stood for?
So here in 2014 what will you all discuss and talk about over the next few days.
The continuing Culture of austerity has led to a consumer drive to Understand where and how food is produced.
GET INVOLVED – we need to find ways of involving our customers more in what they buy from us, better packaging good information more direct contact a shorter route to market perhaps? Challenge the necessities of processed foods low fat this and lo salt that. Real Good food has none of these dangers, we need to find ways of getting the consumer to understand that Real Good food costs more to produce AND is worth it, no hidden dangers behind traffic lights
Next year is the year of Food and drink and provides a perfect opportunity for businesses to really capitalise on Scottish quality we have a situation in which trust has gone, our current big business supermarket driven food system is broken it has created a society where obesity is accepted and the slave like following of sell by dates and colour coordinated nutritional advice has helped to create the waste that LFHW talks about. We need to address this
Gemma said you might be interested in what I am up to just now. Apart from the small consultancies and food workshops I write cookery books
Three Scottish one including one for the National Trust for Scotland
The whole hog was published in 2010 and is all about the pig, its just been translated into French How cool is that!
The whole Cow followed last October and has also been translated into French
Mangez vos coeurs! Mes amis
All about eating the whole animal looking for quality
Veal – I have a campaign, if you drink milk then veal is a by product we are obliged to eat the meat, the by product of the dairy industry is called
Rose veal then there is Ruby Veal. Future farm award winners the Walton’s at Peelham farm were damaged by the foot and mouth crises so rather than wait until their slow growing organic meat was mature they slaughtered young and produced an excellent ethical meat. They worked with the situation, this is what the future of food is about.
Here is another idea I had
I approached 2 publishers with an idea for a little veg book, I saw the little books at Waterstones counters at Christmas – stocking fillers and I thought I can do some thing people will want, so I wrote Beetroot simple recipes with pics on how to cook and use this wonderful vegetable. We are now working on Courgette
I am a dreamer
I have to say that now!
10 years ago a farming friend said to me – in 20 years time we will have the climate of the Loire Valley, plant your sauvignon blanc now!
It took another 5 years talking to find another lunatic friend who thought it a good idea and three years ago we planted 100 vines
This year we hope to harvest our first grapes and make a wine.
I also am keen to get people to cook, demos at schools farmers markets and I run cooking classes and workshops in people’s own homes
I wasn’t sure what a Chiasma was and am still not! But I think that the idea of bringing areas of experience together to have a “brainstorming” session is an excellent one, seeing things from different perspectives learning from shared experience and sitting round together over some good food, good conversation is what makes us creative. I want to end with some words about some one I used to work with – Roy Ackerman was a larger than life character, a very big man in every way he wore black double breasted suits and with his huge bushy beard you could never tell if he was wearing a tie. He produced a food guide and I was the Scottish critic and writer he came north see what I chose as the best – this is the 1990.s two young men were up for a visit one Andrew Radford in Edinburgh and Nick Nairn in Aberfoyle , cutting edge at the time.
Talking to his secretary in London one day I commented on Roy’s many projects and she said that for every one project of his that comes to fruition he has 99 other ideas which fade away.
So take this opportunity, in fact take every opportunity to talk and to listen
We live in exciting times and whilst my focus is on reminding my fellow Scots that we have on our doorstep THE best food in the world, and all we need to do is cook it. and Not to waste it we need to eat less and know where our food comes from our farmers markets need to be much more sophisticated we need to play the supermarkets at their own game, reduce food chains, Scotch whisky has seen the biggest growth – analyse that!
The food of the future is about quality, pride of ownership, affiliation to brands – Scotland and an understanding that our resources are only finite if we look after our environment and our customers we will have a rosy one.
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