Do gastronomy and sustainability standards go hand in hand? This is the belief of Ghanaian chef Selassie Atadika, founder of Midunu restaurant and finalist of the Basque Culinary World Prize 2019 edition. She opens the doors of her restaurant, Midunu and invites us to discover “New African Cuisine”. A cuisine that celebrates the continent’s abundance in a responsible and committed way.
When the environment feeds gastronomy
My commitment to promote sustainable gastronomy has been influenced by my background. After my bachelor’s degree in geography, international relations and environment, I travelled the African continent for nearly 10 years for humanitarian missions. During these occasions, I discovered the treasures and diversity of African cuisine. My passion for gastronomy and my commitment to environmental protection also strengthened. I have always loved cooking. The time I spent cooking with my mother when I was a child is a memory I cherish. But I had never felt the need to follow this professional path, but after a few years as a self-taught person in cooking, I took courses at the Culinary Institute of America. The various experiences made me rethink my relationship to food. After all, eating goes far beyond a basic human need, it means having a special relationship with nature because what we eat and how we consume it has an impact on the planet.
The link between cooking and the environment is so evident; our work as chefs would have no taste without what nature has to offer. No identity. The diversity and quality of the products we find in nature invite us to constantly renew ourselves and therefore preserve these products. Cooking is a way to keep connecting the past, the present and the future, although nowadays, I have the sense that most of the food we eat have become disconnected from this relationship with nature.
Thus, it is very important to maintain this bond, in order to guarantee high-quality gastronomy. Today, chefs are highly exposed and followed, players whose voices can be heard beyond their tables, restaurants and books. Of course, it is up to everyone to commit themselves to a specific cause according to their personal convictions. But I think that in our sector, in addition to offering delicious and refined dishes, chefs must consider the effects of their occupation on the planet. Especially since there are many challenges regarding food, particularly in Africa.
©Francis Kokoroko / @accraphotos