City dwellers are slowly losing what it means to buy their own fruit and veg by touching and feeling for freshness at the local store. As convenience trumps fresh produce, its bought from anywhere convenient. Kids are no longer dragged along to the bhajiwala to be taught how to pick fresh tomatoes, or try the ends of the bhindi to check how crunchy they are. Kids now see them through the screen on their parents phones and being carted through and stuffed directly in the fridge for the week’s consumption. Even adults are now sanitised to this process and expect their veggies cleaned, chopped and packed in clean plastic packaging, ready to be cooked at a moment’s notice.
This is where concepts like urban farming and farm to table come in. Popularised in USA and Europe my Michelin star chefs, the focus was on bringing to the table the most freshest produce one could source for the restaurant. To showcase the raw, earth’s flavours with minimal interference by sauces or other accompaniments. This is not minimized to only fruit and veg, but also meats, milk and seafood. The closer they are sourced the fresher they are, lower the carbon footprint and higher the nutritional value.
This concept has been fully adopted in many restaurants, especially in Culinary destinations like Melbourne, Sydney, Bali, Hobart, New York City, San Francisco, Paris, Mallorca and other European cities and towns. Shows like Chef’s Table regale us with creations of Michelin star chefs that boast the best produce sourced from local farmers that enhance the diner’s experience. These stars have created a new creature called the ‘locavore’ who dines on meals crafted from local produce and propagates farm to table concept to his friends and family.
Going back to the drawing board, these chefs have to work closely with the farmers, dairy, poultry farmer and the fisher to understand seasons of growing, fishing bans and stock going bad and a lot of small issues that will have a direct impact on the menu unlike in traditional restaurant business where a call to your vendor 2 days in advance means the stock gets delivered on time.
And so to understand such intricacies and experience the process, the Culinary Intensive will take participants to Melbourne, Bali and Hobart in Tasmania, where they will interact with local businesses like The Trout Farm where you will cook freshly fished trout, or Aptic Chocolate by Charles Lemai who will talk about Bean to Bar concept for the best chocolates at his Chocolaterie.
The Culinary Intensive is packed with such experiences with some unbelievably talented chefs and curated by Vinesh Johny and Sebastian Simon, who are both very successful in their own right.