Two chefs ignore lofty food goals in favor of brilliant food

Keller & Aduriz
The New York Times has a thought-provoking article interviewing two famous chefs – Thomas Keller and Andoni Luis Aduriz of Spain.

In the article, For Them a Great Meal Tops Good Intentions, both push aside the social idea of social responsibility that many chefs (Alice Waters leading the field) regard as their raison d’être. As these two argue:

“Supporting local agriculture and food traditions? Far too narrow a goal, they said. Chefs’ obligation to help save the planet? A lofty idea, they agreed, but the priority is creating great, brilliant food.

“With the relatively small number of people I feed, is it really my responsibility to worry about carbon footprint?” Mr. Keller asked. “The world’s governments should be worrying about carbon footprint.”

And in Mr. Aduriz’s viewpoint, ‘”… to align yourself entirely with the idea of sustainability makes chefs complacent and limited.”

Both acknowledge that this stand may not be politically correct; however, they do bring up a fascinating and valid question: Should creativity, especially on as high a level as these two chefs represent, be governed by social concerns?  We’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

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One Comment

  • ellabee  on  May 22, 2012

    I'm in complete sympathy with the idea that a chef's primary goal should be to produce delicious food.

    But Thomas Keller is using a classic and dismissive copout: "With the relatively small number of people I feed, is it really my responsibility to worry about carbon footprint?" Yes, Mr. Keller, it is. It's everyone's responsibility at least to be _aware_ of the carbon impact of the choices they're making. His restaurants feed many more people than a home cook, so the effects of his choices are multiplied.

    Shrugging off any responsibility for the consequences (tellingly termed "externalities" in capitalist economics) is how we got so far down the wrong road to begin with. If it weren't for all the thousands of cooks, chefs, and growers over the last forty years who have chosen to take into account the effects of their own decisions on the food system, the situation would be almost irredeemably bleak.

    I'd add that the whole article is classic New York Times material, by and for the rich. The milieu in which it's "brave" to brush off concerns about sustainability is one in which everyone who is anyone can buy their way out of the problems that plague the little people. It's the mindset of Versailles.

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