About Us

About the Chefs for Development

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Chefs for Development is an online community for chefs in the world’s tropical regions- the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific. A place for them to share successes and challenges, to share recipes, to commune with their counterparts in the other oceans.

When many of us think about the South Pacific, the Caribbean or the Indian Ocean, we think romantically of sparking islands with swaying palms; perfect jewels in turquoise blue oceans. This is where we go to unwind, to experience natural perfection.

All three regions are comprised of islands whose chief industry is tourism. Chefs play a significant role in these islands. It is the chefs who decide whether the menus are locally supplied, thereby supporting local farmers, or based on imported products, sending valuable prosperity offshore.

In all 3 regions, a group of chefs are emerging who are committed to their nations above and beyond the usual day to day of menus and cooking. These are chefs whose work goes beyond the kitchen and into the greater good of their nation; these are “Chefs for Development”

Philosophy Statement

“Where the cuisine goes, the agriculture follows” 

When many of us think about the South Pacific, the Caribbean or the Indian Ocean, we think romantically of sparking islands with swaying palms; perfect jewels in turquoise blue oceans. This is where we go to unwind, to experience natural perfection. 

All three regions are comprised of islands whose chief industry is tourism. Chefs play a significant role in these islands. It is the chefs who decide whether the menus are locally supplied, thereby supporting local farmers, or based on imported products, sending valuable prosperity offshore.

In all 3 regions, a group of chefs are emerging who are committed to their nations above and beyond the usual day to day of menus and cooking. These are chefs whose work goes beyond the kitchen and into the greater good of their nation; these are “Chefs for Development”.

Background

Chefs for Development (Chefs4Dev) is an initiative which aims to promote stronger linkages between value chain actors in the culinary and agriculture sectors, with a view to enhancing the contribution made by healthier, locally sourced food and agrifood products to menus in food establishments across the Caribbean, South Pacific and the Indian Ocean. It is a collective initiative coordinated by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO), the Pacific Community (SPC), the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), the International Fund for agricultural Development (IFAD), Women in Business Development Inc., farmer’s organisations, agribusinesses and chefs.

We believe the Chefs are key value chain actors. They play a decisive role in determining where the ingredients used in restaurants, hotels and resorts will be sourced from. Increasingly chefs also attract a following from fans and “foodies” locally and worldwide, which is further amplified by the rise of gastronomic tourism.

This puts them in a unique position to act as ambassadors and champions of local cuisine, food culture and traditions, in a way that resonates with a broader demographic, particularly youth. They can also develop strong connections with local producers and farmers to improve the quality of their raw produce and enhance the value of local products.

Chefs for Development responds to some of the critical development issues faced by the world’s tropical regions. As a result of a number of factors, these island regions face very high food import bills – in the Caribbean, up to 80 % of the food consumed is imported – and also face some of the world’s highest levels of Non-Communicable Diseases and obesity rates – eight out of ten of the most obese countries on earth can be found among the Pacific Islands.

Local agribusinesses and farmers are struggling to compete with cheaper, more processed imported foods, which are the fastest growing segment of foods imports by small islands states. They lack economies of scale, infrastructure is often haphazard and transportation costs are particularly high among small island economies, which are dispersed and occasionally isolated. The lack of wealth creation in the agricultural sector results in pressure for islanders, especially youth, to leave rural areas, and look for employment outside of agriculture, or abroad.

Tourism is by far one of the most important economic sectors among African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) small island economies, and although the food purchase bill of tourism sites can be outsized in the comparison to the local economy, very often, little of this is spent on local food products.

If local producers and agribusinesses were able to tap into the tourism and related markets domestically and in the region, or scale up their market share in those where they are already present, this would present a huge opportunity for growth in local agribusiness. It would enhance the visibility and popularity of local foods, it would support resilience in the island economies, as they would be less dependent on food imports, and it would displace cheap, high processed imported foods which are a major contributor to the health issues faced among Pacific, Indian Ocean and Caribbean islanders.

Chefs for Development is implementing a number of activities which will support chefs, farmers, and other stakeholders to address existing challenges. CTA and key partners are facilitating the exchange of experiences and best practices amongst the chefs across Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific and documenting them. We support farm to table projects, linking farmers to the hospitality sector and training of young chefs who will become the future champions of the local cuisine.

The online platform www.chefs4dev.org is a unique information ecosystem which brings together key actors (farmers, agribusiness, policy-makers, chefs), resources, news, activities and information under one digital roof that is accessible on desktop and mobile. The platform’s activities and visibility will be promoted via its dedicated social media accounts, and it has been developed to allow a high level of interactivity and content sharing via other popular digital services (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.)

Seven areas of activity are covered by the Chefs4Dev online platform (chefs, cuisine, going local, health and nutrition, news, resources, and media), which were identified as addressing the most important issues concerning linking agriculture, cuisine and productive sectors such as tourism, in the ACP small island states.

Each of these seven sections on the website provides detailed information that brings together the experience of experts in the various sectors – gastronomy, agriculture, health etc. – and showcases successes and lessons learnt in delivering closer linkages and synergies between agriculture and cuisine. Each section also provides important resources, such as lists of organisations that support chefs, agribusinesses and policymakers, key events which promote local cuisines, gastronomic tourism and agritourism across the three regions, and inspirational videos and recipes that demonstrate innovative uses of local products and the talents of local chefs and restaurateurs.

Significant gaps in information existed across all seven domains, which Chefs for Development is working with partners to fill through the use of directories, databases and glossaries. In particular, the platform has focused on creating a directory of chefs, restaurateurs, agribusinesses and other producers active in the domain of Chefs for Development i.e. promoting local cuisine, local sourcing and sustainability in the agrifood, culinary and tourism sectors.

The platform includes profiles of the chefs, interviews, and a directory of relevant organisations or bodies which support the various stakeholders and related activities. Another important resource is the glossary of local foods, ingredients and traditional culinary techniques, which form the core of the gastronomic heritage of the ACP small island states and are an invaluable asset in the development of a more sustainable and profitable culinary industry.

Chefs for Development acts as facilitator for institutions, public and private alike, chefs, agribusinesses, as well as other stakeholders who are looking to deepen their understanding about local sourcing, to document best practices and successes in this domain, to promote greater use of local foods in island cuisines, and to support capacity development, value addition and policy engagement in favour of local chefs and producers across ACP small island states.

We are soon expanding our work to Africa and welcome partnerships.

The Team

Editorial Board

CTA: Chris Addison, Senior Programme Coordinator; Isolina Boto, Manager Brussels Office; Lebo Mofolo, Policy Development Briefings Officer;  Tarikua Woldetsadick, Associate Programme Coordinator; Felix Nkwetta Ajong, Project Assistant; Christelle Amorin, Intern Communication & Agribusiness Development

Research: Isolina Boto, Lebo Mofolo, The Greenhouse Studio, Fiji

Media and communication

Stéphane Gambier, Senior Programme Coordinator, Christelle Amorin

Design and Layout: BrightSunday (4PI).

Contributors: Ena Harvey, Agritourism expert, IICA; Chef Robert Oliver, Pacific; Chef Stephan Berrouet-Durand, Haiti; Alisi Tuqa, Acting CEO, PIPSO ; Mereia Volavola, expert private sector, Pacific ; Chris Cocker, CEO, SPTO; Marie Joseph Medzeme Engama, Value chain expert working with producer organizations and chefs in Cameroon and Central Africa

Our Partners