In the summer of 2019 a select gathering of the world’s most famed culinary geniuses sat down to answer the question, “Can Chefs Save the World?”
Now UTOPICFOOD!, an initiative to promote awareness of issues related to all forms of food production, is just releasing the result: a captivating three-part video series to roll out respectively in April, May and June 2020. The work was captured in an entirely new approach the profound concerns, causes and creative thinking of 15 of these global culinary innovators – material so relevant and compelling that National Geographic Asia previewed the pilot episode to coincide with the period surrounding Earth Day 2020 on April 22, with this year’s theme of action to stop climate change, at a time when human survival seems ever more threatened.
Never before have we seen so up-close and revealing, entirely out of the kitchen and musing on the state of the world or the future of cuisine, such advanced leaders of the restaurant world as José Andrés – here passionately advocating recognition of those who “feed the many” and advocating a campaign against unsafe charcoal cooking as a means of combatting women’s poverty.
And there are numerous surprises here in just the first five episodes: Mitsuhara Tsumura, leader of Peruvian-Japanese cuisine, elucidating how the chef community led the restoration of national pride and fought against genetically-modified foods, Hong Kong’s May Chow on the role of evolution and the global perception of Chinese culture, Singapore-based Frenchman Julien Royer on being a global nomad and pioneering Basque kitchen hero Andoni Luis Aduriz advocating creativity as a tool to open minds. But it’s all seasoned with humor and personal insights. Utilizing superbly detailed black-screen shooting techniques in combination with probing questions that go way beyond the usual flattery and recipe-seeking, each segment highlights an individual personality’s lifelong journey and deep connection to nature, local producers and their homeland’s culture.
According to series co-creator Mason Florence, the Bangkok-based magazine publisher and promoter of top gastronomic events, “As today’s rock stars, artists, philosophers and now activists, chefs need a central platform to express their beliefs and show their new sense of responsibility to the world community.”
Adds fellow originator John Krich, an award-winning author on food and travel, Asian Wall St. Journal food columnist, “While media abound in cooking competitions and culinary wanderings, there hasn’t yet been anything like this project, bringing together so many luminaries to document the latest wave of environmental concern and social action in such an intimate yet entertaining way.”
What we eat, how we eat, who gets to eat and who feed them. These are the concerns that drive UtopicFood! — a documentary project of the Asia-based production company, Utopic Films. Beginning with “Can Chefs Save the World?”, we plan to tell the stories and communicate the ideas of those most involved in transforming our planet’s food chain. UTOPICFOOD! was founded to capture and share both the beauty and challenges of sustaining a diverse and hungry humanity.