Crustacean Compassion at Padstow Christmas Festival
Our Campaign Manager, Carol Lever, and Fundraising Manager, Suzanne Featherstone, were lucky enough to visit Padstow's Christmas Festival last weekend. It’s a festival that celebrates the gastronomy of Cornwall and of course Padstow is where Rick Stein has his famous restaurant. Rick Stein, who has been at the forefront of the Padstow Christmas Festival since it started 16 years ago, was able to attract some of the top chefs to the event.
It’s clear that the interest in famous chefs and cooking is not abating as we joined the long queues snaking around the tent before each demonstration. In between the cooking demonstrations was a chefs forum attended by Rick Stein, Matthew Fort, Charlie Stein, Valentine Warner and Tracy Hart from the Prince’s Trust. The question posed for discussion was how to attract young people into hospitality.
Different issues were discussed such as how young people don’t want to work hard or long hours to how joining a kitchen is like joining a family. Potentially what’s missing from the discussion is how those ‘family values’ need to change if they want to attract new people.
Young people care about the planet, and they care about animal welfare. There’s a growing emphasis on teaching children to care for and respect animals from an early age which means not respecting all ‘animals’ within the food chain could put you at odds with the ethics of young people.
Michael Caines, chef-patron of Michelin-starred Lympstone Manor hotel restaurant in Exmouth was a huge draw for the crowd. He’s spoken about how chefs were already "driving change" by looking at emissions from food miles, using local and seasonal produce and working with suppliers.
Mark Hix, chef and restaurateur, calls for a boycott of animal factories and to buy only high welfare meat from real farms.
Valentine Warner has said that “As a cook, I’m passionate about the quality of the ingredients I use and to me that means using high welfare products wherever possible.”
As we learn more and more about decapod crustaceans, we need to update our treatment and handling of them. Crustacean Compassion is not saying we shouldn’t see them as a valuable food source but that like other animals, they too deserve to be treated humanely. Many of the chefs at Padstow Christmas Festival are proud of their local sourcing and welfare credentials. All we’re asking is that they extend that to the sourcing and handling of decapods as well.
In the Dutch language, the bill at the end of your meal is called the ‘rekening’, which always makes me think of the word reckoning. Instead of asking why young people don’t want to work in hospitality, ask how you can make the hospitality sector more attractive to young people who have grown up with a better understanding of animal welfare and the environment.
Chefs are vital to improving decapod welfare and celebrity chefs such as the ones at Padstow can really influence not only their peers but the public too. Is it time for the hospitality sector and especially chefs to have their own ‘reckoning’ and start leading by example if they want to attract the new kitchen stars of tomorrow.