Cooking with Respect


Prominent chefs cook up Zero Hunger messages

Chefs like Mexico’s Alfredo Oropeza use their star power and food know-how to encourage healthy, sustainable diets. ©️Pablo Valero

Prominent figures in the cooking world are using their popularity to urge consumers, businesses and lawmakers to help reduce malnutrition in all its forms, cut food waste, improve nutrition and support sustainable food distribution and preparation systems. 

Chef Alfredo Oropeza is one of the most widely-recognized culinary personalities in Mexico, the United States and Central and South America. He uses his voice to promote proper nutrition and reduce health challenges related to overweight and obesity. He also advocates for small-scale, sustainable farming as a key to better nutrition and improving rural livelihoods. 

“In all our projects we try to deliver content that is of value to our audiences and television productions that are useful to them,” Chef Oropeza says. 

The Mexican chef has produced books on nutrition and ways to reduce food waste, championing natural food sources, small agricultural producers, workers and businesses involved in feeding the country.

Left: Chef Bertand Simon of France urges everyone to be aware of the consequences of their food choices for health and sustainability. ©Alexandre Onimus. Right: Chef Katishiro Nakamura of Japan shares his anti-food-waste message with consumers. ©FAO/Keiko Okabe

Another champion for reducing food waste in the kitchen is Chef Bertrand Simon. A blogger, author and teacher in his native France, Chef Simon has gained popularity online for uploading free recipes that emphasize the use of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, simple and healthy food combinations, and menus which feature items that people tend to throw in the trash. 

Today food waste is a global problem. Every year, 1.3 billion tons of food are lost or wasted worldwide. That’s one-third of all food produced for human consumption. 

To reduce food waste in the kitchen and to inspire others to do the same, Chef Bertrand Simon shares anti-gaspi,or anti-food-waste, recipes like soup made with radish greens, which many people cut away from the vegetable and throw out, and stew made with old mustard sauce and meat scraps. He also writes about the benefits of low-water, urban gardening and eliminating foods, which he says are costly in environmental terms, and urges political and business changes along with individual action. 

“If everyone realized the role and influence of their food choices, it would positively impact other citizens of the world,” Simon says. 

Like Chef Simon, Chef Katsuhiro Nakamura, an FAO National Goodwill Ambassador for Japan, shows consumers how to reduce food waste when they cook. This is particularly important to Nakamura, as in his home country of Japan six million tonnes of food is wasted annually. 

“As a chef, I consider it important to appreciate both the food itself and the hard work of those who produce it,” Chef Nakamura says. 

Nakamura uses a no-waste fish soup with parts which are often discarded (head and bones) and serves it at various events to show how easy it can be to cook up delicious meals while saving food at the same time. He also runs seminars to show chefs and service staff at hotels how they can reduce their food waste and encourages restaurant-goers to take home uneaten food in “doggy bags.” 

Chef Elijah Amoo Addo of Ghana’s Food for All Africa Programme recovers surplus food to reduce waste and hunger. ©Food4AllAfrica Programmme

Chef Elijah Amoo Addo is Founder and Executive Director of the Food for All Africa Programme, which recovers surplus food from supermarkets, restaurants and other sources in Ghana and distributes it mostly to facilities for children, the elderly and people with disabilities. 

Addo says three out of five children on the streets of Ghana are out of school because they do not get enough to eat. The programme works with community-run, free schools to provide meals. 

“We are working with schools to make sure children get access to food on a daily basis. That means they don’t have any excuse not to be in school,” Addo says. 

The programme also runs “SDG 2” crop and livestock farms and stores, named after the Sustainable Development Goal, which calls for the elimination of hunger, to foster agricultural employment and distribute rural products in urban areas. 

By reaching out to consumers and decision-makers in FAO member countries, these chefs are inspiring others to take action and be a part of the global goal to achieve Zero Hunger.