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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Top Chef and Environmentalist Call On Silicon Valley For Clean Cooking Solutions

Posted By on Tue, Jun 9, 2015 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge Mushroom tacos made by Chef José Andrés' team on a solar powered stove. - ALICE DISHES
  • Alice Dishes
  • Mushroom tacos made by Chef José Andrés' team on a solar powered stove.

Chef José Andrés
and Kirk Smith MPH, PhD, want Silicon Valley to turn its attention to solving a food-related problem that has nothing to do with plant-based proteins and everything to do with reducing the pollution and health problems caused by cooking over an open fire.

According to Dr. Smith’s statistics, at least 40 percent of the world’s population still cooks using solid fuel and an open flame. This leads to environmental pollution and individual health and respiratory issues for those who cook — often women — and even their infants, who are often strapped to them as they work in the kitchen.

The duo were speaking on a panel at Bite Silicon Valley over the weekend – a new conference which explores where our food will come from as populations increase, looks at the innovations that will change the way people consume and prepare food, and brings chefs and winemakers together to show off their wares.

click to enlarge L to R: Kerry Diamond, Chef José Andrés, Kirk Smith, MPH, PhD. - ALICE DISHES
  • Alice Dishes
  • L to R: Kerry Diamond, Chef José Andrés, Kirk Smith, MPH, PhD.
click to enlarge Demonstration of clean cooking using a solar-powered stove. - ALICE DISHES
  • Alice Dishes
  • Demonstration of clean cooking using a solar-powered stove.

Held at the shiny, new-ish Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, the conversation, moderated by Kerry Diamond, Editor-in-Chief at Yahoo Food, gave the passionate Andrés an opportunity to talk about his commitment to solving food and hunger issues around the world. His organization, Think Food Group, is involved in programs such as World Central Kitchen, a humanitarian mission dedicated to improving the lives of people in countries like Haiti, by making them part of the solution.

“As a chef, I believe in the power of food as an agent of change,” said Andrés. “I believe in [getting the local people to] invest… we are not giving away anything for free. In Haiti we got the locals to buy the land [and then taught them how to farm].”

His companion, Dr. Smith, Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, at UC Berkeley, is just as impassioned. He believes that clean cooking itself helps to create change. What is clean cooking? Bringing clean energy sources to the impoverished of the world. Outside the stadium, solar powered stoves were demonstrated and then used by Andrés’ team to make top-notch mushroom tacos, admittedly not the typical fare of impoverished Haitians.

Said Dr. Smith, “We haven’t applied high tech to this problem yet. A local tech company should put up a $1 million prize for this.”

Together, Dr. Smith and Andrés called on the audience to go back to their employers – the technology companies of the Bay Area – and apply as much innovative thinking to clean cooking, as has been applied to electric cars and evolving the jet engine.

“People want respect, not pity – we need to help them come out of their problems on their own – not send them our dirty shoes and used underwear,” said Andrés.


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