» Toward a citizen-led sustainable culinary transition: mobilizing future chefs to preserve marine resources
12.06.2018 - Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

Toward a citizen-led sustainable culinary transition: mobilizing future chefs to preserve marine resources

© UNESCO/IOC - Chef Olivier Roellinger

Marine resources are depleting while fish and shellfish continue to attract more and more consumers. Since 2012, the Olivier Roellinger Culinary Contest rewards culinary students and young European chefs committed to “preserving the resources of the sea”. The 2018 edition recognized nine trainees and three young professionals at a ceremony organized on 8 June, World Oceans Day, at UNESCO Headquarters.

Created by the environmental organization Ethic Ocean, FERRANDI-Paris, Dinard catering school and the Relais & Châteaux association, the Olivier Roellinger Contest, for the preservation of marine resources aims at raising awareness of and mobilizing future generations of chefs and young professionals in catering to the fragility of fishery resources and the role they can play in the fishing and aquaculture industry.

“This initiative not only preserves an intergenerational link through the transmission of an art – culinary art – but also through the development of an ecological awareness,” said Julian Barbière, Head of Section for Marine Policy and Regional Coordination at UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), who supports the contest since the 2015 edition.

“Feeding people is an art and a privilege but also involves obligations: ensuring the use of products that are healthy and carefully selected and will allow a sustainable management of resources. It is this difficult exercise that Mr. Roellinger and Ethic Ocean are carrying out.”

He then reminded the young chefs of the United Nations General Assembly’s proclamation last December of 2021-2030 as UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development: “The link between science and culinary art is essential. It will give you the knowledge you need to do your job with heart and intelligence, with respect and for the protection of the ocean, a common heritage of mankind.”

By bridging the gap between professionals of the fishing and aquaculture industry and consumers, chefs have a key role to play in raising awareness and changing attitudes. For instance, they can feature recipes made from sustainable species on their menu, meaning whose stocks are not overexploited. This would encourage consumers to discover different but equally delicious species and promote others that are less known.

“A sustainable fish is a fish whose stock condition and method of fishing we are aware of, and large enough to have had time to reproduce,” explained Chef Olivier Roellinger.

“The goal of this contest is to teach young chefs the best way to cook seafood products, and this without emptying the ocean,” he added. “Over half of seafood is consumed outside the house: chefs are the first suppliers of this type of products and must be the first to be alerted of the issues at stake. They are the vectors of the citizen-led sustainable culinary transition of the world.”

Organized under the patronage of Nicolas Hulot, French Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, this 7th edition saw finalists prepare two recipes: a gourmet style recipe as well as a “home-made” style recipe, faster and easier to cook by the public. They then had to justify the choice of the selected species and their sustainability criteria during an oral presentation.

For more information, please visit the Contest’s website or contact:

Rejane Hervé-Hayworth (r.herve(at)unesco.org)

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