FOTE 2020- Live Sessions April 2019

Week 1: Mark Best and Matt Orlando

Text by Annette Sweeney, FOTE Ambassador 2019

For those of us who look forward to our annual inspiration that Food on the Edge is, the decision that is was being postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19, was tinged with disappointment. However, the consolation for 2020 would be a smaller event in Dublin in October. And then last week… a surprise announcement – FOTE was going online with bi-weekly live chats on Instagram between JP and previous FOTE Speakers. Brilliant idea! My initial thoughts were that there was no doubt that these chats would indeed be a diversion from the hum-drum of isolation and lockdown, but more importantly, if FOTE was to be true to its ethos and activity to date, these sessions are sure to inspire us in how we bring our relationship with food, cooking, dining and culinary education into the next era of gastronomic history. In times like these, the power of the FOTE community is valued, after all ‘we are all in this together’!

Mark Best, Marque, Australia
Up first was Mark Best from Australia who shared his insights on the current status of the industry in Australia. Mark was clear that the industry has been under extreme pressure for some time in relation to oversupply, rising costs and overpricing and that the current industry model is broken! Change was coming and is necessary. His positivity for the future was the key learning from the session, adamant that it’s not all ‘doom and gloom’ as good things will result from this. What he is noticing is that chefs who have been in the industry from sometime are now returning to their fundamental skills or passion, for e.g. pastry/bread making, and using those skills to be innovative in producing specialist products for direct sale. This re-focus and resourceful approach, in his opinion, will be the foundation for future success.

Matt Orlando, AMASS Restaurant, Copenhagen

This theme continued in the conversation with Matt Orlando with Matt giving an overview of how he is actively looking at changing the offering in Amass, with plans to revise the fine dining offering while also creating a new casual offering. In his opinion in order to survive, ‘mindsets’ have to change. He was adamant that ‘community’ is one of the biggest things we have right now and that we need this for our ‘mental health’. Again, like Mark, his positivity for the future resonated throughout the conversation, however not without warning. According to Matt, in order to survive, people are going to get really creative, that is of course if they have the courage to take chances outside their comfort zone. This will result in a ‘boom in creativity’.  The fact that he linked  ‘mind-set’, ‘mental health’, ’community’ and ‘creativity’ as part of the ‘way’ into our future, resonated strongly with me as the interrelation of all of these underpins the skills we are developing in young chefs in ‘The Mindful Kitchen’ module for a more positive kitchen culture. It’s encouraging that a module inspired by FOTE is priming young chefs for his vision of the future.