SANTIAGO, Chile — Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, shared dinner and addressed some 600 delegates attending the 2010 biannual Congress of the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) in Santiago, Chile on Monday.
Cachelet charmed attendees with her warm greeting and willingness to pose for dozens of pictures throughout the three-hour all-delegates dinner at the historic (1816) Castillo Hidalgo, Cerro Santa Lucia. During the night, she explained how the Chilean government’s 20+ year goal to build food production, and the culture of food itself, is now paying off as Chile becomes a leading exporter of food products around the world.
On Tuesday, WACS’s business program heard more than a dozen reports from WACS Continental directors and committee chairpersons, as well as a wealth of expert speakers. Among the many initiatives underway: the WACS Education Committee revealed a new program that recognizes membership by culinary schools, following feedback from such institutions around the world (including Canada).
In other WACS news, Candan Karabagli, vice-president, Unilever Food Solutions Europe, singled out the following top three trends in foodservice:
• Authenticity: “keeping it real” and honouring traditions and ingredients
• Health and Wellness: keeping balance in product offerings at every level, from grade-school feeding, through dining and elder care
• Making a Difference: sustainability, social responsibility, efficient use of all resource and ingredients.
U.S. journalist and food-waste expert Jonathan Bloom was also on hand, and urged chefs and suppliers to trim waste by reducing, reusing and recycling. He explained that: 25 per cent to 50 per cent of food produced goes into waste; food is 30 per cent of restaurant waste; and four per cent to 10 per cent of kitchen inventory never gets used. Bloom added: “By improving practices, foodservice can increase profits, reduce waste-handing charges and be good to the environment at the same time.” For more info, click here.
Dr. Jim Peacock, chair of the OCE Science Team and CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, also spoke at the event. “Genetically modified (GM) foods have been more substantially tested, including for safety, than most other foods,” he said. “And these foods are good for you,” he added. Speaking of GM-influenced foods, such as Canola seeds and oils, Golden Rice and BarleyMax, which are being grown in 25 countries, he said that most GM research is directed at improving the health and well-being of consumers. “At one time GM was linked with trying to improve the wealth of farmers by improving drought resistance or rust prevention, that is not true today,” he added.
Headquartered at the CasaPiedra Convention Centre, the program also features a variety of other venues, while offering a parallel cultural and tourism venue program, which, on Monday, took delegates through the agricultural and wine production Central Valley to the coast at Vina del Mar/Valparaiso. The event ends Thursday.