Project Gastronomía: How will Londoners eat in 2050? A symposium on gastronomy and multisensory design
The future is strange and scary and amorphous. Still, however uncertain it may seem, and however daunting the prospect of its approach might be, rest assured we will be eating when it happens. Food sits at the crux of a litany of ethical, environmental and social issues; it is an end in itself as well as a means to an end. Project Gastronomía – a symposium and forum with its roots in the Basque Culinary Centre – seeks to use food and science as a lens into a future that is healthy, sustainable and delicious, where chefs sit alongside philosophers, psychologists and food scientists and lay fertile ground for discussion.
This interdisciplinarity is at the heart of the programme, which took an audience of food and science professionals at the Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green and challenged them to see food as an exciting opportunity for mindful action as a complex future dawns. At its core was the hope to sprout an answer to the question: how will Londoners eat in 2050? Journalists, inventors, activists and their colleagues in gastronomy and science, says the project, all have their part to play, and much less will be achieved in isolation than with the kind of collaboration that this sort of space seeks to foster.
Futurist John Sweeney urged a view of the future as a resource, a precious commodity as opposed to a mere point in space-time. It is a tool with which to find an ephemeral balance in our thinking between the ridiculous and the useful, the intensely imaginative and the humanistic. Part of this playful creativity feeds into the idea of multisensory design – as discussed by chef Jozef Youssef of Kitchen Theory – where a holistic approach is taken to the experience of eating, to sounds, colours and associations, as a means not only of broadening the pallet’s reach into the synapses but of encouraging people to eat differently – and more attentively. Eating with your mouth is simply not enough: you must eat with your brain instead.
But these far-flung reaches of the mind and elusive notions of the future need to become tools for a recentring on the local. For Peruvian Chef Virgilio Martinez – whose restaurant Central is ranked among the top five in the world – there is no contradiction between the local and the global. Though inspired by the indigenous ingredients of the Amazon and the Andes, and positioned at the noble frontiers of innovative cooking that celebrates biodiversity, the chef sees himself positioned as part of an important international discourse on the future of how and what we eat.
There is, no doubt, plenty to worry about as we face the 30 or so years before 2050, and plenty of adaptations and shifts that we are likely to see on our plates and in our refrigerators as we live through the next decades. In the face of it all, Project Gastronomía stands as a sort of glimmer of hope, a forum that gathers an all-star A-Team from the bright food minds of the world as it stands, enabling them to work together and leave behind the seeds of a legacy that makes sense for the eaters of the future.
Photos/videos: Filippo L’Astorina
For further information about Project Gastronomía visit their website here.