The Making of an Ethical Chef
I wish it was the norm that you would simply walk into any shop or restaurant and be able to find out exactly where the ingredients were sourced.
For me, transparency is an essential ingredient - and one of the main reasons why, what feels like an age ago, I started my cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
Now, finally, on December 14th, it’s graduation day and the closing chapter in my diploma course in Gastronomy, Nutrition and Food Trends at Le Cordon Bleu in London.
The whole experience has been eye-opening. It’s almost felt like the final piece of a puzzle I searched long and hard for…
I’m thrilled to now be able to call myself not just a Nutritional Chef but also - and more importantly for me - an Ethical Chef.
From Baku…with love
Growing up in Baku, in my native Azerbaijan, my relationship with food was completely different to the one we have today.
My family was in the gastronomy business which meant that I spent my teenage years surrounded by many of the leading chefs in Baku, from whom I learned not just the basics of cooking but also how important heart and soul are in anything you cook or do.
In Azeri culture we grow our own food, and that food is ‘organic’ in the true sense, the way nature intended. We also use everything - nothing goes to waste.
Truly natural produce isn’t a treat or an occasional luxury bought from a high-end health store on a special occasion. Instead it’s just the way it is and always has been.
Azeri people have a closer relationship with - and a greater respect for - the food they eat than we do in modern Britain and throughout the West.
Even today when I’m making traditional Kuku, Dovga or Pachlava I feel my grandma’s presence and feel pride at being able to use my heritage in such a tangible way.
I believe that losing our connection with food is a problem for many reasons. Food by Dana is my way of redressing that problem.
From Camomile to Food by Dana: A Natural Evolution
In 2015 I woke up with a mission, to bring back my passion for food, love and kids.
That led, in March 2016, to the establishment of Camomile, a cooking community that brought families and communities in Prague together to cook and learn about everything from farming to nutrition in order to reignite family culinary traditions.
Since that joyful start, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to move to London and pursue further studies in gastronomy.
Now, equipped with that knowledge, I want to raise awareness about how we’ve lost touch with our food, the people who produce it and, ultimately, to nature.
Why an ‘Ethical’ Chef?
During my Diploma in Gastronomy, Nutrition and Food Trends I was fortunate enough to have Patrick Holden, the CEO of the Sustainable Food Trust, as my lecturer for our module on Sustainable Food Systems.
Learning from Patrick’s nearly 45 years of experience in the field of ethical, sustainable food production was eye-opening.
I had always known inside that our food should be healthy, sustainably-sourced and organic but until now I hadn’t had the tools I needed to explain why.
Being an ethical chef means taking responsibility for the change that needs to happen and not settling for the status quo.
I’ll be sharing more about that and about Patrick and his Sustainable Food Trust in upcoming posts.
This is just the start of a movement that will be kicking off in earnest in 2019.
What lies ahead in 2019 and how can we make the change happen?
As an ethical chef I believe in supporting ethical sourcing - that also means embracing and making the most of seasonal produce.
That’s why for our Winter Supper Club I’ll not only be sourcing ingredients from trusted, local suppliers like Tommy from Coxtie Green Farm, I’ll also be showcasing the best in seasonal winter produce.
I’ll be showcasing ethical food, seasonal produce and ethical producers in future posts as well as sharing details of some very exciting collaborations we have in the pipeline for 2019
That’s it for now - I hope you’ll join me on my gastronomic journey as I explore sustainability, ethical sourcing, traditional Azeri cuisine (with a contemporary twist 😉), gastronomy, nutrition, food trends, seasonality and more.