Forty male and female head chefs have joined the network of the Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance in Switzerland since the beginning of 2018. As a result, they have joined around one thousand other cooks on an international scale. The project’s principal objective is to ensure that gastronomy and restaurants and catering support small-scale producers and local growers in order to safeguard an agri-food heritage and expertise, by promoting products that risk disappearing. It goes without saying that one of the purposes of this initiative is also to allow consumers to (re)discover these products by way of exceptional tasting experiences.
What is the chefs’ role in safeguarding agri-food biodiversity? They are undoubtedly the best interpreters of local cuisine. Consequently, they are in a position to make the best of local produce thanks to their knowledge and their creativeness, by favouring the “biodiversity guardians” consisting of small-scale growers, artisans, and processors, as well as direct sales
“The culture of gastronomy begins as early as the purchasing phase”, points out Tanja Buesser, from the Schäffli restaurant in Uznach, a member of the Chefs’ Alliance. “We have abandoned traditional processes in favour of industrialisation”, adds Marie Nydegger, from the Fleurs de Marie restaurant in Geneva.
Slow Food Switzerland considers restaurants and catering to be an essential strategic domain for the dissemination of its universal message in favour of food which is “good, clean and fair”. “The Chefs’ Alliance offers additional opportunities for small-scale growers whilst at the same time creating a national network of responsible cooks. We want to recruit around a hundred chefs between now and the end of 2020”, declares Alexandre Fricker, the manager of Slow Food Switzerland.
Admission criteria for the Chefs’ Alliance
As a general principle, chefs from the Alliance must display an interest in the local region and choose regional products as a priority. They must use at least three Swiss ingredients from the “Presidi” range (projects for product safeguard) in their menus and mention the name of the growers on the menu card in order to create visibility for them. The Presidi and Slow Food Ark of Taste passengers must be indicated by a logo (see below).
Presidi and Slow Food Ark of Taste passengers: what are they?
Through its “Presidi” and “Ark of Taste” projects, the Slow Food association carries out activities which promote food biodiversity. It supports high-quality growers at risk of disappearing, protects unique regions and ecosystems, safeguards traditional techniques and
customs, and encourages the conservation of indigenous flora and fauna.
Developing the links between chefs, growers and diners
The Chefs’ Alliance Slow Food in Switzerland is not a seal of origin, but can be viewed as a network which links together chefs, small-scale growers and diners. Slow Food Switzerland plans to organise various events bringing together these various protagonists and to develop and consolidate this network at the local level. Slow Food Switzerland will be going around meeting chefs and will be supporting them in this initiative. Each Slow Food region (referred to as Convivia within the movement) has nominated a manager to accompany them and to introduce them to local producers and Presidi growers.
In order to notify diners, each restaurant displays the Slow Food manifesto from the Chefs’ Alliance, receives a sticker denoting its participation in the project and points out the Slow Food products by means of a logo on the menu card next to the corresponding dish.
Additionally, the waiting staff will have received the information necessary for them to be able to hand on the Slow Food values. Finally, flyers relating to the Alliance are placed on the restaurant’s tables or enclosed with its menu cards.
Slow Food International Press Office: [email protected] – Twitter: @SlowFoodPress
Slow Food is a global grassroots organization that envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet. Slow Food involves over a million activists, chefs, experts, youth, farmers, fishers and academics in over 160 countries.