Why are the Culinary Arts and Nutrition Education Important Levers of Sustainability and Healthy Lifestyles? Potential Solutions from the Perspective of Hospitality
Author: Jaroslav Guzanic
Acknowledgements: This article was reviewed and contributed to by Luke Buckner, Jørgen Torgerstuen Johnsen and Wanja Nyaga. Our thanks go out to those involved in the MTK cookbook launch event at Cambridge festival, as well as the design of the cookbook which can be purchased here.
In general, culinary arts are related to the design, preparation, cooking and presentation of food. Culinary art is part of a gastronomy and hospitality industry, and is heavily linked with the development of culture and society. Nowadays, expert chefs are required to have a knowledge of food science, nutrition and diet, and are responsible for preparing meals by performing culinary procedures alongside food and beverage management at restaurants, hotels, schools or other public catering facilities.
In my opinion, this is something we are aware of and have heard before, but how does this all relate to sustainability and a lifestyle? Or better said, how much do chefs really know about sustainability? Having worked as a hospitality professional (in different roles and positions within the hospitality sector) for the past 18 years, I have developed a lot of knowledge of the fundamentals of sustainability. More recently this has been added to my position as a Research Chef where I now communicate with customers, learning more about their demands, dietary requirements, and sharing stories about their lifestyles, perceptions and philosophies of cooking.
The development of a society
Progress in technology, growing cultural diversities and political changes have caused significant gaps and inequalities which are reflected in our social and consumer behaviours and eating habits. This trend has brought confusion, even in gastronomy. For example, using terms like “sustainable, green, eco-friendly, and ethical” have meaning that everyone understands differently and often people (customers and consumers) cannot fully explain what sustainability is, or how to get themselves involved. In addition to this, hospitality workforces, for instance chefs, have the capacity and potential not only to develop recipes, but also help create dialogue with stakeholders, educate communities on healthy diets and work with healthcare professionals.
Below are a few key areas we will be working on within our recently established, collaborative, open knowledge platform designed for creating a conversation and sharing educational interactions with hospitality and healthcare professionals, teachers and key organizations based in Geneva and elsewhere in Switzerland.
“Working with Jaroslav, in running our first live cook-along to recipes from our Mobile Teaching Kitchen (MTK) in Kolkata, was such a fun and useful experience. He provided a great complimentary perspective to the experience we gave as healthcare professionals and researchers, highlighting simple food swaps and culinary techniques. I truly feel that given the important role food plays in society and socialising, chefs and healthcare professionals working with researchers can form impactful, enjoyable nutrition interventions.
Dr Luke Buckner - NNEdPro Assistant Director and MTK Project lead.
Leadership: Promoting healthy behaviours through healthcare, school-based education, hospitality training, gastro diplomacy and community-minded projects. Experience from past decades shows the need for mobilizing the capacities of different stakeholders as agents of change and incorporating new strategies of awareness-raising, communication and education for food and nutrition. Gastronomy has become a domain that, in addition to its economic importance, has positioned itself as an area of interest for a large part of the population, the media and governments.
Knowledge: Innovating a “Learn and Share” collaboration model between chefs and healthcare professionals to strengthen patients outreach programs in terms of social prescription. Chefs today are among the actors who shape public opinion and influence the general population. They aim to build broad alliances and a global platform to mobilize the capacities of different actors, such as chefs, to strengthen policy dialogue around culture, food and healthy diets.
Assessment and Management Skills: A global call to involving chefs in the research methods of creating an idea and obtaining results. In both science and cooking, known ingredients and a common set of techniques are used to produce results. In cooking, it is the synthesis of a meal or dining experience from a set of ingredients expressed through a recipe.Improving collaboration and communication. Assessment of social, psychological and biological predispositions of patients’ behaviours and the resulting health outcomes.
Community Support: Delivery of more nutrition and food education to schools. Collaborating with families and community-based projects. Supporting and creating a dialogue between science and regular people (all of us are part of a worldwide community). Having the ability to establish and practice in an interdisciplinary team. Chefs have become increasingly involved in the global movement to reduce food waste, championing food waste reduction efforts in their own restaurants, as well as empowering local heroes.
Coming from hospitality industry, this an area that will always exist and it is one of the biggest global cultural and social platforms and tools to incorporate and implement knowledge and create synergies between sustainability and lifestyle. This is a very special area, which needs further research and support.
NNEdPro is completely following this mission and provides a very important knowledge foundation on a global level. To support this point of view and add to what has been written above, we strongly believe in creating a productive collaboration, by following this movement, promoting it and connecting with Swiss-based collaborators, as well as Think-Tank hubs.
1. Chefs as Agents of Change [Internet]. Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations. 2021 [cited 22 April 2021]. Available from http://www.fao.org/3/ca3715en/ca3715en.pdf