Jp McMahon's two-day international food symposium Food on the Edge concluded in Galway on Tuesday (10tOctober), with this years' renewal of the event proving its biggest yet.
More than 400 people attended on each day to listen to more than 50 of the world's best international and Irish chefs and food leaders, while over 70 Irish food producers showcased their produce in the Artisan Food Village.
The major theme of Food On The Edge 2017 was "Action & Reaction" and a number of speakers presented personal stories about how they have been inspired to take action in reaction to issues spoken about in previous years at Food On The Edge.
The actions that high-profile chefs have taken to address hunger and nutrition was a key theme, with Daniel Burns, of Torst and Luksus restaurant in Brooklyn, saying: "As chefs we can influence social change, act locally and spread the word globally."
South African chef Margot Janse, founder of the Isabelo charity, and Spanish chef Quique Dacosta, ambassador for Action Against Hunger, also devoted their food stories to the topic of hunger and nutrition.
CEO of Concern Worldwide, Dominic MacSorley, opened this year’s Food On The Edge with a talk on the topic of "Reaching Zero Hunger".
Tuesday was World Mental Health Day and mental health in the hospitality services was another key theme. It was addressed by Irish-born, London-based chef Anna Haugh (Bob Bob Ricard), North American writer & author Kat Kinsman (Chefs With Issues) and North American chef Elise Kornack (from the former Brooklyn restaurant Take Root).
Another key theme was work-life balance in the life of the chef and restaurateur, which was addressed by Norwegian chef Esben Holmboe Bang (Maaemo), who spoke about how he is taking steps towards creating a more healthy work environment for chefs and staff by having introduced a three-and-a-half day week followed by a four-day week.
Magnus Nilsson of Faviken in Sweden said he believes that innovation and creativity can be increased by time out from work.
"No one in the team should be indispensible and everyone should want to be there and not to have to be there,” said Nilsson, as he encouraged a policy of five weeks’ holidays per year and a healthy work-life balance.
“Head chefs forget to look after themselves," said Nicolai Norregaard (Kadeau, Copenhagen) who also advocated for a better work-life balance in the industry.
Education was another key theme and JP McMahon shared his "action & reaction" story about his new Education Agenda campaign to get food introduced as a proper subject in schools in Ireland.
"I want to emphasise the importance of food and food education in Ireland. It’s essential to have food as a mandatory subject on the school curriculum. I think it’s really important that we do that. Food education can help combat childhood obesity, poor eating habits and it teaches the importance of Irish food culture," he said.