• Cyril McAree

Top Irish Chefs Get The New ‘Conversations’ Theme Started At The National Launch Of Food On The Edge


At the national launch event for Food On The Edge 2018 held in Glovers Alley by Andy McFadden in Dublin on Monday the 13th of August, creator and director JP McMahon unveiled a new theme for the global food symposium this year, which is ‘Conversations’, to run in tandem with the event’s overall ‘Future of Food’ theme.

JP McMahon said, “Although the overall theme of Food On The Edge, as always, is the future of food, this year we’re introducing a new theme, which is ‘Conversations’ . I think it’s very good to sometimes talk through some of the issues and the problems, whether they are mental health, food waste, or education on the chef’s side and also the food education of our children, and that plays into who we are as a society.” JP McMahon’s special guests at the event, Andy McFadden, Danni Barry and Domini Kemp, and Mark Anderson of Gather & Gather, joined together as a panel to share the type of conversations that Food On The Edge has inspired for each of them at the symposium. Andy McFadden, who spoke at the first Food On The Edge in 2015, and who returned to Dublin to open Glovers Alley at the start of this year from London where he had a lengthy and successful career as head chef in Michelin star restaurants, said, “I think what’s great about Food On The Edge is that no matter how busy people are, it brings people together so they can have conversations. I wanted to figure out how I could work in a better way in my own kitchen but I hadn’t learned how to do it. At Food On The Edge, I spoke about how I was going to have a rooftop garden, how we would have a farmer take our waste away to compost it, and grow our own vegetables. Matt Orlando [of zero waste Amass restaurant in Copenhagen] came up to me and said, ‘I’ve been doing it, and you can come over to Copenhagen and I’ll show you what we’ve been doing.’” At this year’s Food On The Edge taking place on the 22nd and 23rd of October in Galway, Ireland, Andy McFadden together with Irish chef Neven Maguire, who Andy worked with for two years while in his teens, will have a conversation about mentorship which will also address Ireland’s chef shortage issue. Domini Kemp, who was a speaker at Food On The Edge in 2017, told attendees at the national launch event, “Food On The Edge is really nourishment for our brains. It brings the idea of cooking for people to a much higher level. It makes us think about what we do, about our place in the world, about how we can contribute more to society; how we can push the boundaries. And when it inspires you to do just that little bit more in your own kitchen, in your own business, that is the point of Food On The Edge. It’s just pushing us to start the conversation and to do that little bit more. I think the influence that something that Food On The Edge has with our younger generation of chefs means that Irish food is in great, great hands.” At the national launch event, Danni Barry, who spoke at Food On The Edge in 2016, said, “For me, when everybody comes out of the auditorium at Food On The Edge to eat and drink, that’s when the conversations for me happened; the conversations that were as a result of what people would have heard from those who spoke started off lots of things. It’s important that you take those conversations back to your day-to-day; things like conversations about working conditions.” Mark Anderson of Gather & Gather said, “We feed maybe 10,000 people every day, so for us, the conversation inspired by Food On The Edge was about what we can do culturally. You come away with so many ideas, and if you take three or four of them and implement them in your business, then you’re going to have a better business, you’re going to have a better chef, you’re going to have a more balanced trade. That’s why we’re very proud to be part of it.” Gather & Gather have gone on to become a principal partner of Food On The Edge since their attendance at the symposium in 2016. JP McMahon closed the national launch event by highlighting a number of the ‘Conversations’ lined up for Food On The Edge this year between speakers including Shauna and Mark Froydenlund of Marcus Restaurant in London; Esben Holmboe Bang who will be talking to Jordan Bailey of new restaurant Aimsir opening at Cliff at Lyons; and Carrie Thurman and Sharon Roufa of Two Sisters Bakery in Alaska. JP McMahon said, “They may be far afield, but it’s these stories that will inspire us and carry us and that will really make us think, and I think they will make the industry better.” Matt Orlando of Amass in Copenhagen and Sasu Laukkonen of Ora restaurant in Helsinki have been named as the co-hosting MCs for Food On The Edge 2018 and will also be running masterclasses on ‘Zero Waste in the Kitchen’ (Matt Orlando) and ‘Working with Farmers’ (Sasu Laukkonen).

Among this year’s panel discussions will be one entitled ‘Irish Chefs Abroad’ with London-based Irish chefs, namely Niall Davidson of Nuala restaurant, Marguerite Keogh of The Five Fields, Kevin Burke of The Ninth and Aidan McGee of Corrigan’s Mayfair. Nathan Outlaw, Paul Cunningham and Luke French will make up another panel discussing the topic of ‘Contemporary British Food’ with UK food writer Diana Henry as moderator.

The 2018 Food On The Edge venue is the Bailey Allen Hall at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG), Ireland. The symposium on the 22nd and 23rd of October will be a mix of 15-minute talks by speakers, panel discussions and hands-on masterclass sessions. A 2-day Early Bird ticket is available until 31st August 2018 for €300 which includes access to all talks plus lunches and entry to the infamous wrap party. Organisers say tickets are selling fast, with a sell-out show last year. Gather & Gather is a principal partner of Food On The Edge this year, with Estrella Damm and San Pellegrino returning as major sponsors.

For more information see www.foodontheedge.ie, follow the official hashtag #FOTE2018 and @FoodOnTheEdge for regular updates.


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