Lessons from Lockdown

Massimo Bottura

Like so many events last year, Food on the Edge 2020 had to be cancelled. To keep the spirit of the symposium fresh in people’s minds JP McMahon, the event’s founder, contacted previous speakers and contributors and asked them to write a letter addressed to the industry. The result is ‘Lessons from Lockdown: Cooking after Covid’, an E-Book that reflects the diverse voices from around the world that make up the industry, from the chefs and producers to the service providers. It’s a piece of work that, says JP, serves as a global record of a particularly challenging time while allowing hope to shine on the future and the next generation of young cooks, chefs, farmers and food activists. “What we got was a series of deeply personal and moving accounts of their Covid-19 experience, with many recounting losses and some reminiscing on valuable gains and insights”, he said.

The experiences throughout the book have similar themes; the joy that came with spending more time with family and loved ones, evaluating what life was like before Covid-19 and changes that would be made going forward and the resilience of the industry. Elena Arzak of Restaurant Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain wrote: “The hospitality industry is in an especially hard place. But if there’s one thing chefs are good at, it’s making the best out of any situation. We are givers and can make wonderful things out of the ingredients that we have on hand. We are good at logistics and planning and we are generous because our reason for being is to feed and take care of people. Now is the time to be especially generous.”

Massimo Bottura, of Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy, who spoke at Food On The Edge 2016, shared a recipe he used while working in Refettorio in Rio de Janeiro with Food for Soul, the non-profit organisation he founded with his wife Lara, and Gastromotiva. The recipe is a carbonara using banana peel, “to show that the most incredible things are still possible when you look at the world from another point of view and dare to leave your comfort zone.” JP is busy preparing for a different kind of Food on the Edge for 2021. “It will take a different format to years gone before, nevertheless we are looking forward to keeping the momentum going and the conversation alive.”

‘Lessons from Lockdown: Cooking after Covid’ is available on the Food On The Edge website.