A gourmet dinner – to end world hunger?

In terms of international issues, dealing with world hunger is right at the top of the United Nations’ agenda, right between world peace and creating eco-friendly, sustainable energy. The numbers are staggering: out of seven billion people on our planet, there are unfortunately 870 million that are hungry, not including the five million children that die from malnutrition or starvation every year. Since the 1960s, on behalf of the UN, the bulk of the hard work in the war against hunger has been carried out by the international World Food Programme.

The WFP fights nobly, year in and year out, to help feed the masses good, nutritious food and increase their ease of access to food sources. With a variety of different strategies and campaigns, their goal is to reduce world hunger to zilch, so that impoverished children and adults the world over never have to go to bed hungry. Every year, as part of the World Economic Forum, the WFP holds meetings in Davos, deep the heart of the Swiss alpine region. The sweeping snowy landscapes and frosty climate are a perfect recipe for encouraging political figures, such as John Kerry, and famous business men and women to bunker down and discuss the world’s biggest problems, dissect economic trends and brainstorm to find solutions.

As part of the events lined up, the WFP hosts an annual function of its own in Davos…but not something that you’d expect. That’s right: famous faces and personalities such as the UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and the Netherlands’ royal family flock to the WFP’s dinner, making it a very noble event indeed. Maison van der Boer has been the exclusive catering company for the WEF since 2005, and this year they also provided the menu and service for this elite dinner. It’s wrong to call it a banquet or a buffet, because those terms encourage us to think of overloaded tables, groaning from the weight of food, which is exactly what didn’t go down in Davos this year. It’s also worthy to note that the dinner itself wasn’t funded by the WFP itself, rather, by its sponsors. In fact, to ensure that rampant criticism in the public eye was avoided on all levels (after all, a gourmet dinner for the World Food Programme sure sounds ironic), head chef Jamo von Doremalen stuck to some seriously strict criteria. It’s certainly no easy feat to plate up 128 fresh, local, nutritious and tasty gourmet dinners for both royalty and the heads of international organizations. But Jamo stepped up to the challenge and executed it flawlessly.

Getting marks for appropriateness was the entrée: based on green peas, it was a firm nod to the UN General Assembly’s decision to proclaim 2016 as the International Year of Pulses. The dishes that followed were hot and tasty, but not oversized or super-luxurious. This was done to ensure that perfectly good food wouldn’t end up as waste – following the guidelines of the WFP’s Think.Eat.Save campaign, and to emphasise that the nutritional quality of the food is just as important as its taste. Ingredients were sourced locally, where possible, to reduce each dish’s carbon footprint. Quails, extremely prolific locally, were subbed for chicken in the main course, and dessert was a simple selection of chocolates, fresh fruit and coffee.

But we’re still wondering if they got to leave with (environmentally-friendly) doggy bags…?