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Slow Food concept

Chefs need to be aware of seasonal and local products; they are fresher and cheaper in season and for some bazaar reason we can mark up a dish if you add seasonal into the description.
There are chefs in committed to the concept of seasonal, local cuisine, but as a movement, Slow Food had very little visibility. Chefs like local produce because it is the freshest and the best � it makes their food taste better. But other aspects of Slow Food � preserving family farms, environmental concerns involved in the catering and hospitality market.
Slow Food movements in the country is increasing Slow Food's international conference in Italy, was the second largest from the United States. In the Triangle, the best chefs are inextricably linked to the farm community. Seasonal menus dominate, and chefs cook at the farmer's markets. What results is a true community, fuelled as much by passion and politics as by commerce and the chefs within the catering industry.

Perini is visiting in part to support his latest book, Slow Food Nation (Rizzoli, $22.50). Like his previous works, the book chronicles the movement's beginnings, which were in part a reaction to McDonald's opening a restaurant near the Piazza did Spagna in Rome. In Italy, Slow Food is as much about preserving the local food traditions as it is about organics. It's an idea that doesn't translate as well in the United States, a nation whose main tradition is the very blending of cuisines that Perini hopes to avoid in Italy.
There was a lot of pig there. I made a beeline for Damon Lapas, a friend who owns the Barbecue Joint outside Chapel Hill. He served two kinds of barbecue � whole-hog and a mix of ham and butt, both made from pigs raised and slaughtered locally. Catering jobs abound at the minute.
Chefs ran around the field, bringing each other tastes of what they had made, from roasted veggies to devilled eggs. "These are Ben and Noah's eggs," someone said, giving credit to Fickle Creek Farms, whose chicken and eggs have inspired many chefs I know.
Chef at Lantern in Chapel Hill is the leader of Slow Food in the Triangle. Her table was a meditation in pork variations from head to tail, with some asparagus thrown in the middle. When less-intrepid picnickers tried to reach for the asparagus, Reusing told them they had to try the pig-ear salad before they were allowed the inviting green spears.

Perini arrived a little late. Trailed by a translator, he spoke politely to Slow Food members.
Perini�s talk, like his book, was full of lofty ideas and beautiful language. Through a translator, he spoke with grand gestures about the Earth's metabolism, and about the link between gastronomy and environmentalism. Much of Slow Food Nation is dedicated to redefining the term gastronome, lending it a more political and social context rather than the snooty connotations Americans associate with the word.
"All gastronomes must become environmentalists," Perini said, "and all environmentalists must become gastronomes." The catering industry needs to understand and adapt to how food used to be.

Perini certainly has a point about the link between issues of food supply and environment. Factory farms and pollution are huge factors in the threat to our food supply, and if everyone embraced the ideology of Slow Food, it's hard to imagine a scare like the spinach debacle of last year.

But because chefs provide most of the support for the movement, many of the people benefiting from the exposure to local food are people who were already eating in restaurants. In the United States, the people who could really benefit from healthful, seasonal produce are the poor. Rich people have always eaten well.

Perini suggested that if we eat better food and eat less of it, eating well wouldn't actually cost any more. It's a simplistic and optimistic answer, and one that, in the land of 99-cent value menus and 10-for-$1 boxes of ramen noodles, isn't likely to convince poor parents trying to feed their kids.

But it got me thinking about the next logical step for Slow Food in America. While Europeans have a viable concern to preserve their food culture, American Slow Food enthusiasts might put their efforts into finding a way to use these ideas to slow the obesity epidemic, to teach our children how to eat better and to make this into a real public-health issue. This is already starting to happen, particularly in California, where chef and local-produce champion Alice Waters has started the "Edible Classroom," in which children learn to grow and cook their own food in Berkeley's public schools.
Catering jobs for chefs within the quality food environment are still few and far between, where as the retail park pubs as I call them, boil in the bag food abounds. Chefs need to understand where the food comes from in order to prepare it well.

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+ChefsWorld Tim Capper  
Tags: Catering Trends , Chefs Slow Food , Slow Food Concept , Slow Food Movement , Slow Food Movement Chefs

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