René Redzepi's MAD Foodcamp kicks off in Copenhagen tomorrow

Alexandra Forbes - 26/08/2011

The MAD Foocamp- organized by Noma's chef René Redzepi and a commitee of eight - will take place outside Copenhagen this weekend (August 27 and 28).

Everything about it is different, non-commercial, inviting. To start with, it won't take place in some urban conference center, but in green fields outside of Copenhagen. As the organizers put it,
"The festival site is a 55,000 sq m wild meadow located beside the reservoirs of Refshale Island, on the old B&W shipbuilders. Here, festival-goers will enter a raw environment with wild vegetation which has grown undisturbed for decades. Festival-goers will make their way along newly-cut paths to various tents and crop circles where they will find an international symposium, an impressive farmer’s market, a gigantic campfire, an area dedicated solely to products made from grains and cereals, a number of street kitchens, as well as more information-orientated areas concerned with hay, ‘the wild’ and the living soil. The marketplace, where tastesample are offered and dewy ingredients traded, and where one can meet farmers with a burning passion for their work, is the festival’s epicentre. There are no intermediary at what should become Northen Europe’s most luxuriant fruit- and vegetable market. The bazaar-like collection of experiences, activities and chances to buy produce will be augmented by spontaneous food demonstrations, competitions such as the Danish Hay Championship, and a Hyde Park Corner-style area where leading producers and food personalities will share their knowledge and lead discussions from hay bale pulpits." Here's a map of how they've set up the whole affair (click on the image to see it bigger):
David Chang has been in Copenhagen for a couple of days already, and had lunch at Noma with fellow chefs Alex Atala (D.O.M.) and Magnus Nilsson (Faviken).
What's the importance of all this, and of the presence of more than 200 international chefs at the "food camp"?
In the words of René Redzepi himself, as he wrote in England's paper The Guardian,

"Chefs have a new opportunity – and perhaps even an obligation – to inform the public about what is good to eat, and why. But we ourselves need to learn much more about issues that are critical to our world: culinary history, native flora, the relationship between food and food supply systems, sustainability and the social significance of how we eat. There is no conflict between a better meal and a better world.
Some colleagues and I began to think about staging an open, collaborative forum dedicated to the changing role of the chef. Taking as our reference points the Glastonbury festival or Denmark's own Roskilde – both grassroots celebrations where inspiration and quality of content trump commercial interests – we wanted to organise the culinary analogy: an outdoor festival fuelled by a devotion to food and a desire to understand it better."

Here is the list of speakers at the MAD Foodcamp, in order of appearance:

Saturday 27th August

René Redzepi (Noma, Denmark) An Introduction Tor Nørretranders From Wild to Tame – and Back Again Miles Irving Forager Wild Flavours of England Daniel Patterson (Coi, U.S.A.) A Short History of The Beet Yoshihiro Narisawa (Les Créations de Narisawa, Japan) Food Culture in Japan / SATOYAMA & Reconstruction After Earthquake Disaster Hans Herren Food Systems of the Future: Why & How They will be Different from Today’s Kamal Mouzawak Make Food not War Iñaki Aizpitarte (Le Chateaubriand and Le Dauphin, France) Coquina et Naturali Vinorum Thomas Harttung Urban Food Systems Magnus Nilsson (Faviken, Sweden) Fäviken: How we do the Things that we do Jacqueline McGlade Copenhagen is Buzzing: Bees, Cities & Our Common Future Ben Shewry(Attica, Australia) The Cycle of Love

Sunday 28th August

Stefano Mancuso Neurobiologist The Unexpected Plant – Beyond the Animal Model Alex Atala (D.O.M., Brazil) Insects & Plants: Together for Life François Couplan Wild plant specialist Wild Plants & Culinary Creativity Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana, Italy) Never Stop Planting Søren Wiuff All that We Eat has Been Alive Molly Jahn How Good Food Can Save Our Planet Michel Bras (Bras, France) Vivre la Cuisine Harold McGee (author of On Food and Cooking) The Flavours of Plant Life David Chang (Momofuku Ko and other Momofukus, New York) Food Microbiology: an Overlooked Frontier Andoni Aduriz (Mugaritz, Spain) Natural & Cultural Ecosystems Gaston Acurio(Astrid y Gastón, Peru) The Power of Food

Published by Alexandra Forbes, a Brazilian food and travel writer and restaurant critic and correspondent for Prazeres da Mesa magazine. Alexandra can be followed on Twitter by clicking on this link.