HALIFAX — More than 200 chefs from across Canada have united for the 49th CCFCC (Canadian Culinary Federation) Convention, which runs in Halifax until tomorrow, June 6, with a Sustainable Food Systems theme.
The event has attracted international visitors, including; Michael Ty, president of the Florida-based American Culinary Federation; Louis Perrotte, continental director of the Americas for the Paris, France-based World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS); and L. Edwin Brown, WACS ambassador.
On the speaker’s stage, the penalty for mishandling food sources was dramatically illustrated by Ron Walters of High Liner Foods who pointed out that Newfoundland’s cod fish industry was almost wiped out by foreign overfishing during a 15-year period in the 90s and still hasn’t recovered. “Sustainability is not just an option, it’s essential in the interest of both the source and the end consumer,” Walters said.
Walters also pointed out that farm-raised fish has become more important in the market, representing a growing percentage of market share. He explained that aquaculture will surpass wild fish consumption in just a few years and will likely grow to 75 per cent of the market within the next 10 years. “Science has shown aquaculture farming has a much smaller environmental footprint than almost all traditional land farming; it’s a very efficient way to grow food,” he said.
Mark MacPherson, of the U.S.-based Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, gave a passionate appeal. “My job is to work myself out of a job — to make sustainability the common standard so consumers are not misled.” He added: “I’m immensely hopeful on the seafood side, over the next five to 10 years, that sustainability will be the norm across Canada with chefs and with consumers.”
In a subsequent panel discussion 30-year foodservice veteran Lil MacPherson, restaurateur-owner of Halifax’s green-friendly Wooden Monkey restaurant offered a suggestion. “Chefs can use their purchasing power to drive change,” she said, before offering a reminder. “Consumers are finding sustainability choices more desirable, and a new generation of young people is even more environmentally aware.”
Chef Ed Walker, chair of the Culinary Arts Program, Thompson Rivers University, spoke on farmer and chef collaboration. Inspired by the U.S.-based Farm2Chef program, Walkers has organized the Thompson (TSCFC), a collaborative of approximately 70 farmers, which links local producers with local chefs. He urged the audience to consider similar programs in their area and distributed a questionnaire about the possibility of forming a national organization.