French chef Veyrat seals comeback with third Michelin star

French chef Marc Veyrat, holds a Michelin guide after being awarded the maximum three Michelin stars, during the Michelin guide award ceremony at La Salle Musicale in Boulogne-Billancourt near Paris on February 5, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 06 February 2018
0

French chef Veyrat seals comeback with third Michelin star

PARIS: Marc Veyrat, the comeback king of French cuisine, was back at the top of the culinary pecking order Monday after the Michelin guide awarded him the maximum three stars.
The flamboyant chef, who is rarely seen without his black Savoyard hat, has now won the top rating for three different restaurants over the course of his career.
Nine years after Veyrat was forced to give up cooking after a serious skiing accident and three after his alpine restaurant La Maison des Bois burned down, the 67-year-old was back at the summit of French cooking.
As his three stars were announced at a Paris theater, Veyrat told AFP that “you have to hit rock bottom to realize how good things can be,” adding that he felt “like an orphan for the period when I wasn’t in the Michelin guide.”
Famed for his highly inventive creations that mix delicate infusions of wild herbs with hearty traditional Savoyard cooking, Veyrat is one of only two chefs promoted this year to the elite club who hold three stars, the Michelin guide said.
A self-taught master who has spent most of his life cooking in his home village of Manigod 1,600 meters (5,200 feet) up the Alps near Annecy, he has twice been given the maximum 20 out of 20 score by the rival Gault-Millau guide.
Addressing the celebrated chefs, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe hailed them as ambassadors who “contribute to the influence of French culture.”

Rise of Japanese chefs

The guide’s international director Michael Ellis also cheered the continued rise of Japanese chefs in France with two new two-starred restaurants, Takao Takano’s eatery in Lyon and Masafumi Hamano’s Au 14 Fevrier at nearby Saint-Amour-Bellevue in the Saone-et-Loire region of eastern France.
Five other Japanese chefs got a single star for the first time, including four in Paris led by Ken Kawasaki, the Pertinence run by Ryunosuke Naito and his Malaysian wife and patissier Kwen Liew; Takayuki Nameura of the Montee, and Keisuke Yamagishi of the Etude.
Takashi Kinoshita, who cooks at the Chateau de Courban in northern Burgundy, also made the grade.
“Japanese chefs have great technical skills and their cooking can be extremely precise,” Ellis said.
“France and Japan are quite similar,” said Naito as he celebrated his win. “France is presented to us as the number one in world gastronomy and for me Japan is number two. We both love good ingredients.”
Veyrat’s organic alpine vegetable gardens around his rebuilt restaurant make it almost self-sufficient. He has also pioneered the use of wild mountain herbs in broths and fermentations, and cites the botanist Francois Couplan among his heroes.
Ellis said Veyrat has earned himself “an important place in culinary history. It is very difficult to make characterful food with herbs, flowers and plants, but he does it,” he told AFP, picking out a dish of egg, hay and wood sorrel served with ravioli of “forgotten vegetables” as particularly brilliant.
Renowned fish cook Christophe Bacquie of the Castellet Hotel in the Var region of southeast France was also awarded a third star for the first time.
The 45-year-old is best known for his Mediterranean-influenced recipes, including John Dory, crab and caviar served in a perfumed cream of kaffir lime.

Club of 28

Only a tiny club of 28 chefs hold three stars from the Michelin guide, the bible of French gastronomy.
Last week for the first time the Michelin allowed a top French restaurant to bow out of its listings after its chef told AFP he no longer wanted to work under the “huge pressure” of being judged by its undercover inspectors.
Sebastien Bras’ Le Suquet restaurant in the rural Aveyron region had held the maximum three-star rating for 18 years.
Bras confessed that like “all chefs” he sometimes found himself thinking of fellow Frenchman Bernard Loiseau — who committed suicide in 2003, an act widely seen as linked to rumors that he was about to lose his third Michelin star.
This year the guide is launching a mentoring scheme led by Anne-Sophie Pic, the only woman with three stars in France, to help chefs cope with the pressure that Michelin recognition brings.
“It is a great boost to get a star,” Pic told AFP, “but there is also extra pressure as well as the fear of losing it. It can be a steamroller. With more and more people wanting to book a table at your restaurant, their expectations also rise.”
Canadian Noam Gedalof was among the intake of foreign-born chefs, getting a single star for his restaurant Comice in the French capital, while the Dane Andreas Moller of Copenhagen, Lebanese chef Alan Geaam and the Cypriot Andreas Mavrommatis were also similarly rewarded for their Parisian establishments.
The full Michelin guide for France, whose ratings are based on two or three visits by unannounced inspectors, will be published on Friday.


Waste not, want not: Import-reliant NENA region seeks solutions to consumption and storage issues

Updated 16 October 2018
0

Waste not, want not: Import-reliant NENA region seeks solutions to consumption and storage issues

  • Food security institutions around the world mark World Food Day today, to honor the founding date of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  • KSA's consultative Shoura Council is looking into a food waste law that could see individuals and organizations fined for excessive waste

DUBAI: With food loss and waste in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) estimated at up to 250kg per person and more than $60 billion annually, a number of initiatives are aiming to tackle the issue across the region, which relies heavily on global food imports, has limited potential to increase production and faces a scarcity of water and arable land.

They’re not alone, as food security institutions around the world mark World Food Day on Tuesday, to honor the founding date of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1945. 

“If, on a global level, we could recover one third of food wasted, it could feed 870 million people,” said Colin Kampschoer, communications officer at the UN’s World Food Program. “In 2017, one in nine people didn’t have enough to eat — this equals 821 million people. Globally, a third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, amounting to about 1.3 billion tons per year. For example, at the moment we waste almost half of the fruit and vegetables we produce in the world, while we waste 24 million slices of bread each day.”

Saudi Arabia ranks first in the world in food waste per capita. According to the FAO, reducing food loss and waste is vital for sustainable food systems and regional food security. “The high percentage of imported food into the region, combined with the Middle East being a major contributor to food waste, means that it places a heavy burden on the earth’s resources, including water, energy and fossil fuels, that are required to produce and distribute food,” said Ryan Ingram, founder of TerraLoop, a food loss and waste consulting company in the UAE. 

“Greenhouse gas emissions associated with food waste are 25 times more harmful to the environment and accelerate climate change. If food waste were a country, it would rank as the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China and the US.”

The region loses and wastes up to 20 percent of cereals, 50 percent of fruits and vegetables, 16 percent of meat and 27 percent of fish and seafood. 

The FAO estimates that food waste at the consumption stage in the region is 34 percent, and is found mostly in urban areas. Significant wastage is also said to take place during religious holidays, wedding ceremonies and family gatherings, and in the hospitality industry such as in restaurants and hotels. “Major weaknesses for the region include a significant lack of arable land, water scarcity, a hot climate, insufficient investment in agricultural research and high dependence on global and regional markets,” Ingram said. “This is in addition to population growth and increasing local food consumption each year, which also place increased pressure on already-strained food and water resources.”

Food consumption in the GCC has grown from 48.1 million metric tons in 2016, with estimates that it will reach 59.2 million metric tons in the GCC by 2021. And with a compound annual growth rate of 4.2 percent and 800 million undernourished people in the world, much work needs to be done. 

“The Middle East, like most prosperous societies, has access to plentiful food supplies,” said Jeffrey Culpepper, chairman of Agrisecura in the UAE, which provides sustainable solutions for food security purposes. “That excess promotes waste, especially in high-end hotels and restaurants. Many times, portions are valued in quantity, not quality, so too much is put on your plate.” 

He said hot climates add to difficulties in storing surpluses. “Mandatory management of food waste by governments is required,” he added. “As opposed to dumping in landfills, it can be digested into bio-fuel or composted. By having smaller portions on the plate, savings can be used to offset storage cost of waste for collection.”

Landfills are also quickly reaching capacity. “By recycling food waste, it will take pressure off landfills and create useful byproducts like bio-fuel and compost,” Culpepper said. “Also, in a world where food shortages and hunger are a major problem in many countries, wasting food has become a moral issue.”

Others called for implementing a law to combat food waste, such as enforcing a fee on restaurant-goers who leave unfinished plates. “Monitoring large food-waste producers, like catering companies, hotels, markets, malls and airlines, is vital,” Ingram said. “There is also a need for national and regional guidance and awareness campaigns in all sectors, including residential, commercial and government, as well as pre-Ramadan.”

He suggested measuring waste at the source and creating a feedback loop to the supply chain so that procurement is reduced. “What gets measured, gets managed,” Ingram added. “Developing community projects that tackle food waste at the source and educating the producers and public about the issue and how to be a part of the solution, can also help. Developing policies that help overcome future food security challenges requires further research, and development and future strategies need to be aligned with research and development to ensure resilience and sustainability.”

Many initiatives are starting to emerge across the region to tackle the issue. The UAE Food Bank collects food from hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and farms to distribute to people in need, such as laborers.

Terra Loop sees itself as the Middle East and Indian Ocean’s first food waste auditing consultancy, helping people to understand their food waste, from five-star hotels and resorts to shopping malls and restaurants. Its objective is to guide them to solutions that reduce their “FoodPrint,” taking responsibility and improving their bottom line.

In Saudi Arabia, the Eta’am Food Bank, launched in 2010, helps to feed the underprivileged by distributing excess food from hotels, banquets and weddings to the poor and needy. “Other corporates in the Eastern Province now also participate in the scheme,” Ingram added. “Eta’am also promotes food-related culture and provides hands-on experience in the safe preparation of food through the Food Academy Initiative.” 

Moreover, the Kingdom’s consultative Shoura Council is looking into a food waste law that could see individuals and organizations fined for excessive waste. It also proposed the establishment of a national center to offer guidance and awareness on food waste. 

“There is a growing awareness in local communities on the problem of excess food waste with several local initiatives having been started to recycle residential food waste,” Culpepper said. “These efforts are important but still too small to make a significant difference. The big generators of food waste are hotels, restaurants, schools, hospitals and government institutions, as opposed to residential, so it will require a government policy to force commercial food-waste producers to recycle.”