Young chefs star in TV show seeking to make Zero Hunger a reality

A new reality TV show is tapping into Peru’s gastronomic boom to make viewers aware of the importance of good nutrition for the development of the country’s people and its communities at large.

Chefs Mayra Flores and Betsy Albornoz (with her son Santiago) after the launch of the TV Peru’s Cocina con Causa. Photo: WFP/Elio Rujano

Cocina con Causa will see young chefs visiting families across Peru, preparing meals and sharing recipe ideas that make the best use of local produce and help address problems such as anaemia, malnutrition and obesity.

They will be joined by World Food Programme (WFP) staff, nutritionists, paediatricians and other professional experts, supported by the experience and wisdom of local producers.

“The idea of the programme is to enter households and begin a conversation about how we eat, and how to eat better,” said Carmen Burbano, WFP’s Country Director in Peru. “We are counting on the best allies: young chefs.”

The show is co-produced by TV Peru, WFP, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Inclusion, and a group of young chefs committed to creating better diets and health among communities across their country. The initiative also has the support of the private sector and a further 19 ministries.

Cocina con Causa forms part of the Government’s goals under its Bicentennial Plan, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 2, which is to eradicate hunger and improve nutrition by 2030.

Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, attending the official launch of the series in Lima on Saturday (26 Aug), said: “We look forward to being able to educate everyone and to having programmes to deliver food to canteens and schools.”

President of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, ask about the ingredients of one of the dishes prepared with locally produced food. Photo: Presidency of Peru

Cocina con Causa has its roots in the rise of a new movement that aims to bring together the State, private sector, academia, media and civil society, as part of a collective effort to end malnutrition and accelerate progress to Goal 2 — Zero Hunger, and Goal 3 — Good Health and Well-Being.

As part of this, WFP organized a series of dinners around the world to launch the Healthy Not Hungry campaign on the sidelines of the 2017 World Economic Forum in January.

Chefs were challenged to create meals that would inspire action. Among those involved was top Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio, whose involvement highlighted the power of fine Peruvian gastronomy as a means of raising awareness and taking direct action to help eradicate hunger.

Peru’s rapid ascent as a gastronomic powerhouse can be attributed to its unique blend of influences, ranging from indigenous Andean, Amazonian and coastal cultures, to the Spanish conquerors and African slaves, as well as French, Italian, Chinese and Japanese immigrants. Lima is now considered the food capital of Latin America.

Chef John Gómez prepares one of his dishes. Photo: WFP

However, there are critical issues to address. While Peru has halved the number of people suffering from hunger in the past 25 years, chronic malnutrition continues to affect 13.3 percent of children under five. Obesity and overweight in Peru are also constantly increasing, affecting 14.8 percent and 17.5 percent of children between five and nine years respectively.

The “culinary revolution” can only become a true development tool if it reaches the most remote and vulnerable areas.

The chefs of “Generación con Causa.” From left to right: Fransua Robles, Palmiro Ocampo, Mayra Flores, Jorge Matsuda and Betsy Albornoz. Photo: WFP/Ramon Lohmar

This is reflected in the first episode of Cocina con Causa, which features chef Palmiro Ocampo visiting Puno, the region with the highest anaemia rates in Peru. In rural areas, anaemia rises to worrying levels, reaching 76 percent in areas such as Puno.

“I am convinced that is not anaemia but indifference that kills people,” says Palmiro. “As chefs we can do a lot. Now it is our turn to take action. That’s why I called upon a group of friends who joined the cause without hesitation.”

Palmiro will be briefed by a paediatrician on the causes and consequences of anaemia, and will travel to Caminaca, where nine in every ten children have the condition. There he will meet the mayor of the town, a school teacher, a local nutritionist and a local family that is almost completely self-sufficient, all of whom will help him understand the issue.

Equipped with this knowledge and expertise, he will prepare delicious recipes with the community centred around blood and intestines, to increase iron levels in the local diet.

You can follow the progress of Cocina con Causa via @WFP_Peru, @WFP_ES and on Facebook @ProgramaMundialdeAlimentos. Follow the #CocinaConCausa hashtag. You can view the chefs’ web.stagram feed here. You can watch episodes of Cocina con causa (in Spanish) here.

Read more about WFP’s work in Peru here.

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Deyra Caballero

Deyra Caballero

Social Media & Web Manager for the World Food Programme in Latin America and the Caribbean