The first national meeting of the Alliance between Italian Chefs and Slow Food Presidia strengthens the bond between restaurants and small producers...
Last week, members of the Alliance between Italian chefs and Slow Food Presidia gathered together for two days of meetings, debates and dialogue for the first time in Tuscany, where the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity has its regional headquarters.
The Alliance was formed in 2009 to bring together chefs with the Presidia projects: Osterias and restaurants commit to using local quality produce by featuring Slow Food Presidia products in their cooking and the producers on their menus.
The chefs and producers discussed issues such as distribution channels, supply methods, the role restaurants can play in local agricultural development and the promotion of biodiversity.
"A hole in the net. That's what the products of our Presidia represent. A hole in the net of standardized flavors, knowledge and distribution." That's how Piero Sardo, president of the Slow Food Foundation, described the spirit that has characterized the Slow Food Presidia project for the last 12 years. "When we started, we never dared to hope that we could create a network starting from this hole, but working with producers we realized that a different way of understanding food and agriculture existed. We need this world to become a solid network, proposing alternative production methods. This meeting marks a great turning point, and it is essential that the chefs act as its harbingers. Innovation and tradition must travel on parallel tracks, not fight against each other."
Over 100 producers from 60 Italian Slow Food Presidia and 73 chefs were present at the meeting, including award-winning chefs like Vittorio Fusari of the Dispensa Pani e Vini in Torbiato d'Adro. "We choose a food not just to eat better, but also to think better," he said. "Behind an ingredient is the place, the story of a location and the producer. It is fundamental that cooks become the real communicators of their ingredients, communicating how they select producers and how they select the dishes they decide to put on their menus."
"What do I see in the future?" asked chef Massimo Bottura in his final speech. "In the future I see chefs coming into the kitchen with hands dirty from the soil, from freshly milked milk, guided by their past and their memory, distilled with a critical, not nostalgic, interpretation, to bring the best of our past into the future. We are the real!20gyardians of our culture, and in the Lima Declaration, the open letter to tomorrow's chefs, signed with other international chefs, we find the same principles that guide Slow Food's philosophy, attention to small-scale producers and traditions. We must continue to seek the products that are disappearing and to serve them to our customers, explaining to diners why it is so important to protect them. The dream is what guides us, let's never forget."
For more information (in Italian):
Alessandra Bazzocchi and Roberto Casamenti, Osteria La Campanara © Alberto Peroli