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S. Pellegrino X Monocle

Food meets future

Sparkling evening

In 2019, S.Pellegrino, the world’s leading sparkling mineral water, celebrates its 120th anniversary. To mark this special occasion with the gastronomy community, the brand hosted Food Meets Future, a special event included within the programme of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards at the National Gallery in Singapore on 24 June. This year the awards shortlist was extended from 100 to 120 to commemorate S.Pellegrino’s 120th anniversary. The star-studded party took place at Marina Bay Sands. A sparkling sculpture of the famous green bottle took pride of place in the middle of the ballroom, honouring the iconic Italian heritage brand’s 120-year heritage. Leading lights from the culinary world mingled with the future stars of global gastronomy before moving to the Sands theatre to hear the results and honour the overall winner, Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco’s Mirazur restaurant on the French Riviera. “We will always be rooted around the table,” says Stefano Marini, director of S.Pellegrino’s international business.

S.Pellegrino and the World’s 50 Best Restaurants share a belief that the future of gastronomy requires the community to come together to nurture talent, act responsibly and inclusively, and inspire each other with creativity. The Food Meets Future event, which took place later in the day, was devised to explore four key pillars as the focus for discussion and action to secure the future of gastronomy: inclusion, inspiration, responsibility and talent.

Setting the tone with an impassioned introduction, larger-than-life Italian chef Massimo Bottura kicked off this convivial four-course feast by talking about talent with a panel of illustrious guests: Yannick Alléno, Anne-Sophie Pic, Julien Royer and Garima Arora. Bottura, owner of last year’s best restaurant, Modena’s Osteria Francescana, spoke about feeding talent and stepping back to leave space for this younger generation. True to his word, he and the panel took questions from rising chefs in the audience, including the current holder of S.Pellegrino’s young chef award, Yasuhiro Fujio. How does Bottura spot talent? “I look at the sparkle in their eyes, not their curriculum vitae,” he says.

José Andrés served up the main course: responsibility. The Spanish-American delivered a cooking call to arms in front of a captivated audience about how he came to found World Central Kitchen after his experiences of volunteering in Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. Since then the NGO has been flying into disaster zones with a team of cooks to make meals for those affected. Andrés has subsequently led his team in Puerto Rico, Colombia and Venezuela. “We just show up and start cooking,” says Andrés, whose team of 25,000 volunteers prepared some four million meals in Puerto Rico. “Never wait – when people are hungry they are hungry today, not next week.”

The message of inclusivity in gastronomy reached far beyond the chefs who presented on the da: S.Pellegrino presented a video showing pledges and commitments made by prominent chefs from around the world. “More and more, the new generation of diners are looking for inclusivity, not exclusivity,” says Marini. Achieving gender parity was a popular pledge, as was a commitment to improve the working environment in a kitchen; it’s a notoriously hot and steamy atmosphere. The need to challenge this accepted norm was echoed later that evening when Daniela Soto-Innes of New York’s Mexican-inspired Cosme restaurant (number 23 in this year’s list) picked up the award for the world’s best female chef.

An edible dessert art wall, which perfectly represented S.Pellegrino’s support for creativity and talent, was dreamt up by Singapore-based pastry chef Janice Wong. “Culture is the biggest inspiration for all of my desserts,” says Wong, standing beside her latest creation. As delegates tucked into the food art, Wong’s inspiring creation became a physical representation of how food can bring people together and bring down barriers. “The future of food, for me, is more women chefs – and S.Pellegrino is putting a lot of work into that.”

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