The week that was (7 April 2016)

MAD SYD was held on Sunday at the Opera House. It was a delightful afternoon. A few thoughts below –
 
- David Chang suggested that the low end of the restaurant world will become more fractured, with a single idea to dominate restaurants (do one thing, do it well). He is concerned the middle market restaurants will disappear as they are unsustainable (due to wages etc). Essentially he suggested food is too cheap. It is. More from Chang on that here

- Neil Perry also spoke about the sustainability of restaurants, not just in regards to the environment, but in regards to the industry. He talked about creating sustainable businesses for the future and the importance of not just nurturing customers, but also nurturing yourselves. 

- Social researcher Rebecca Huntley discussed the social and cultural disparity that exists in food in Australia. Did you know that food costs can be up to 26% higher in general stores in parts of central Australia? 

- Massimo Bottura stole my heart (again) with lines like: “with bread we create more emotion than with caviar.” 
 
He spoke beautifully on why cooking is a call to act. And act, he does. I have written about the Refettorio Ambrosiano before. It is a soup kitchen Massimo and Lara created during the world expo in Milan. They invited chefs from around the world to volunteer and create meals for the homeless with the waste generated by the Expo. It is an amazing project that continues to operate now, essentially running itself. He has two more in the pipeline: Rio (for the Olympics) and Turin. You can see the refettoria in action by watching the little trailer at the bottom of his Food for Soul website.
 
He also explored the idea of a recipe as a social gesture – there is a fabulous story of him creating a dish to use the Parmesan that was damaged after an earthquake in Modena, a natural disaster that threatened to bring the industry to its knees. Massimo shared the recipe (a take on cacio e pepe) and organised a virtual dinner - on that one night nonnas all over Italy cooked the same dish and the Parmesan was sold. How could you not fall for this man?
 
- I did like the logical progression from Rene regarding the chef as social crusader idea - “It's natural to want to take care of people because that's what we do.” It makes sense and I love the idea of chef and cook as nurturer. That is what food is. 

- I also loved the collaborative idea from Chido Govera (an amazing story in itself) and Massimo – “We need more chefs knowing about soil and more farmers knowing about cooking.” I think this is fundamental. The producer should be part of the restaurant family, just as it should be a part of every kitchen (via farmers markets etc).
 
If you want more, read Lee Tran Lam’s lovely wrap up of proceedings here.
 
- And finally, there’s the free range egg debacle. The government has proposed changes to the free range standards, allowing a stocking density of 10,000 chooks/hectare and no necessity of outside time. This is ludicrous. You can sign the petition and then buy your free range eggs with this guide.