Chefs Warn of Impact of Fine Dining

Hong Kong – One of the world’s top chefs has warned that environmental degradation and an explosion in fine dining restaurants worldwide is set to have a drastic impact on the food trade.
Habitats are being destroyed, killing off wild fish stocks and making some vegetables and fruits so scarce that a number of dishes will have to be dropped and restaurants will be forced to close, warns Pierre Gagnaire, one of the pioneers of experimental modern cooking.
He also predicts that as the number of restaurants soars, demand for produce will rise, forcing up the price of dwindling stocks of good quality food and sending menu prices sky-high.
For those eateries that do survive, Gagnaire says chefs will have to adapt their cooking techniques as only farmed or genetically altered food will be available.
"It’s a terrible worry, but it’s reality – the food we eat will drastically change," said Gagnaire during a recent visit to his Pierre restaurant in Hong Kong’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
"For instance, in the next five to 10 years there will be no wild fish, only farmed fish. That will have a huge impact on not only cooking techniques, but also flavours and the dishes we cook," he added.
Recent reports by conservationists paint a gloomy picture for the future of many wildlife species whose very existence is under threat from hunting and habitat destruction.
Wildlife preservationists WWF have warned that unless oceanic and reef fishing is reined in, most major culinary fish species would be wiped out within 50 years.
Among the most at risk, it warned, were the bluefin tuna, which experts believe will be extinct within three years and the South African abalone.
Many species of shark, including the mighty oceanic white-tip, have also been added to the endangered list due to overfishing for their fins, a delicacy in China, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Gagnaire’s near-apocalyptic vision of the not-so-distant future comes as booming economies worldwide have sparked a surge in lucrative fine dining restaurants.
The Frenchman is among an army of Michelin-starred chefs who have lent their names to restaurants around the world, including in Asia, as demand for top-notch food has exploded.
"It seems an odd thing to say but there are too many good restaurants – suppliers just cannot cope," said Gagnaire.
"My suppliers are used to working for maybe three or four restaurants but now they are getting calls all the time from new restaurants opening up."
Gagnaire is considered among the world’s greatest – and most daring – chefs, helping to pioneer a style of cooking that relies as much on science as it does kitchen technique.
While the style has been made famous by Spain’s Ferran Adria at El Bulli, it is Gagnaire who is credited with first applying scientific methods to creating menus.
His three Michelin-starred Balzac in Paris was named third best restaurant in the world in the prestigious 2006 San Pellegrino rankings after El Bulli and the Fat Duck, near London.
Like famous TV chef Jamie Oliver, Gagnaire has taken a public stand against junk food, attacking the food industry for promoting low quality fare and bemoaning the advertising industry for making bad food products appear trendy.
"The everyday food that people eat these days is worrying," he said. "It’s a problem that affects the whole world.
"You shouldn’t have to go to a three-star restaurant to get good food. There are some alarm bells going off."

This article was originally printed May 22 2007 at 12:19PM Science  IOL


8 thoughts on “Chefs Warn of Impact of Fine Dining

  1. swamp

    Morning Kate. Just caught up on your past blogs, whilst enjoying a cup of your coffee, and smelling the roses. I thought about making a serious comment, but then decided to have another coffee, snd just sit here a while, and enjoy the sun.
    Have a good day  🙂

  2. Bittersweet on-the-hill.

    Hello Kate,
    Interesting article.  I guess that is why many restrauants have started their own vegetable and herb gardens.  I too have noticed that the quality of fish we get from the food chains has gone down.  It is difficult to get a nice piece of swordfish or a cod steak. And you always have to check out the freshness of any fish you buy.
    Our spring has finally settled in and some of the outdoor blooms have been lovely; especially the forsythia and lilac.  I am awaiting one of my favorites, the iris start to bloom.  So all in all, a very pleasant time.
    Today promises to be lovely and I am planning as many hurs outdoors as possible.  It is that classic spring/summer day when the sun is delightfully warm and a slight breeze makes it perfect.  I hope you are well.      Peace……Bittersweet

  3. Suki x

    Hi Kate

    Thanks for your visit and your comments, I love visiting your space as you always have a controversial subject up for discussion and everyone pitches in with their view,   Yes the personalities of the bloggers comes through in their comments and I love it when they argue amongst themselves it adds flavor to your space.    But then you get people like The £aird, The Swamp, and Kenny who have lots of views but would rather sit around drinking coffee, so I think I will join them today, Black no sugar please and can I have a dip in your pool please
    Love Suki

  4. Kenneth

    Morning Kate
                            Your recent blogs have produced some rather interesting tit-bits.

  5. Coffee With Kate

    Well Kenny that is another thought provoking ‘tit-bit’ thrown in. And here is another. The elements of the human body the earth’s soil and the sea are reported to be of the same nature; so where does that snippet lead us to ponder about?

  6. LAIRD

    Your last comment is, shall we say, elementary. Is nt the human body 90% water and 10% bits and pieces from the big bang? [ Goes home with the sound of rattling coffee cups and typing sounding in my ears]!


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