SINGAPORE: In the summer of 2019 a select gathering of the world’s most famed culinary geniuses sat down to answer the question, “Can Chefs Save the World?”
Now UTOPICFOOD!, an initiative to promote awareness of issues related to all forms of food production, is just releasing the result: a captivating three-part video series that is being rolled out from April to June 2020.
The work captured the profound concerns, causes and creative thinking of 15 culinary innovators and was so compelling that National Geographic Asia previewed the pilot episode to coincide with the period surrounding Earth Day 2020 on April 22. This year’s team was action to stop climate change.
Out of their kitchens, chefs including José Andrés, Mitsuhara Tsumara, May Chow, Julien Royer and Andoni Luiz Aduriz speak about the state of the world and the future of cuisine outside their kitchens.
José Andrés passionately advocated recognition of those who “feed the many” and called for a campaign against unsafe charcoal cooking as a means of combatting women’s poverty.
There were numerous surprises in the first five episodes. Mitsuhara Tsumura, leader of Peruvian-Japanese cuisine, spoke about how the chef community led the restoration of national pride and fought against genetically-modified foods, Hong Kong’s May Chow on the role of evolution and the global perception of Chinese culture, Singapore-based Frenchman Julien Royer on being a global nomad while pioneering Basque kitchen hero Andoni Luis Aduriz advocating creativity as a tool to open minds.
Utilizing detailed black-screen shooting techniques in combination with probing questions that go way beyond the usual flattery and recipe-seeking, each segment highlights an individual personality’s lifelong journey and deep connection to nature, local producers and their homeland’s culture.
According to series co-creator Mason Florence, the Bangkok-based magazine publisher and promoter of top gastronomic events, “As today’s rock stars, artists, philosophers and now activists, chefs need a central platform to express their beliefs and show their new sense of responsibility to the world community.”
Fellow originator John Krich, an award-winning author on food and travel, Asian Wall St. Journal food columnist said “While media abound in cooking competitions and culinary wanderings, there hasn’t yet been anything like this project, bringing together so many luminaries to document the latest wave of environmental concern and social action in such an intimate yet entertaining way.”