Food

Sourcing ingredients responsibly is key to sustainable cooking: Chef Brian Moore

When using local produce, we reduce our carbon footprint, he says

Brian Moore, Executive Sous Chef, JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa, Thailand, is known for his ‘Modern European’ style of cooking: classic techniques and flavours executed with clean and contemporary presentation and his passion for sustainable cooking. The Melbourne-born is in the city for the ‘Four Hands’ collaboration with Chef Mohammed Eliyaz, chef de cuisine, JW Marriott Hotel Bengaluru. The two chefs will be whipping up a variety of dishes such as beetroot tartar, duck liver foie gras parfait, handcrafted lobster and Alaskan king crab tortellini, beets and goat cheese sorbet as part of the collaboration till July 25. The ingredients are sourced locally with the produce coming from a farm on the outskirts of the city.

Brian sat down for a chat on sustainable cooking.

Excerpts:

Sustainability seems be the buzzword now. What does sustainable cooking actually entail?

I think sustainability is the way of the future. What is important is sourcing and understanding the product. Source responsibly. Know your suppliers. Have a relationship with the vendors and understand if it is really validated as sustainable. When using local produce, we reduce our carbon footprint. I worked in Hong Kong where everything was imported. So there was a massive carbon footprint on our menu. Now that the world is so open, you can import from anywhere, any time of the year and so a lot of chefs are losing sight of seasonality. But India has some great local produce and chefs here are very fortunate.

When you started out, were you thinking about sustainable cooking or was it something that was gradual?

I started cooking in the early 90s when it wasn’t really a thing. I think it is high time we take responsibility. Because if we continue to use thousands of kilograms a year of some product, it is wrong.

UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) consist of a list of 17 goals, including the elimination of poverty, ending hunger, ensuring provision of quality education, clean water and sanitation, that countries, including India, must achieve by 2030. According to the UN, over 15% of the population in South Asia is considered undernourished. Goal 2 of the agenda seeks to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition, and double agricultural productivity. Ensuring this sustainable access to nutritious food universally will require sustainable food production and agricultural practices.

What do you think is the importance of movements such as slow food, farm to table and nose to tail cooking?

I think it creates a story. I’ll give you a good example of farm to table. I went to a restaurant in Bangkok. All the alcohol: the rums and the gins were from Isan, a region in Thailand. There was also nose to tail dining which is rare in Thai food. I sat down and read the menu and realised that the restaurant had such a solid story. And nose to tail, in a sense, is sustainable because you are using everything; you are not wasting any food.

There are also initiatives by restaurants and chefs around the world to reduce food waste. For example, chef Massimo Bottura’s organisation Food for Soul.

We have a food waste programme in our hotel and since we implemented it, there has been a 15% to 20% reduction. It makes our associates more aware such as not preparing too much, not putting too much food out and being careful with the trimmings. There are so many things you can do with vegetable and tomato trimming. We need to educate our associates.

Massimo has a soup kitchen that feeds the underprivileged and the food is made from trimmings. I think that’s the way of the future with chefs. It is not only about cooking and having a rock star image. It is about giving back to the community. I think that is important as well.

Patrons though may find that even if they want to eat sustainable food, it is just too expensive.

That is the sad reality. But I understand why it is [expensive] because they go to deep lengths to get the certification. It is not easy. For instance, the soil takes 10 years to turn completely organic. We can factor in costs and balance it somewhere else. Cost-wise, we chefs don’t really care about it because we understand the depth of the work going into producing something.

For example, for strawberry farming in Hong Kong, a special plastic is used to cover the strawberries, which has to be certified. All of this costs money and chefs are aware of that.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 7:29:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/sourcing-ingredients-responsibly-is-key-to-sustainable-cooking-chef-brian-moore/article28688202.ece

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