Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the Club des Chefs des Chefs, in New York, 29 July, before a delegation of chefs which prepared dinner for 250 homeless people in Harlem, in New York City, as part of a campaign against hunger.
Mr. Ban invited the Club to join the Zero Hunger Challenge, launched by the Secretary-General last year, to encourage partnerships that help people to enjoy the right to food. The Zero Hunger Challenge is helping poor farmers to become more productive, grow more nutritious food and enhance their incomes, as well as making food systems sustainable and ending waste.
I am pleased to be with you today. I travel to all parts of the world and I have been to many different world-class restaurants. I sometimes have the chance to meet with their world-renown chefs, but this is the first time I am meeting Chefs des Chefs. I expected you would treat me to very nice food — although I know they say “there is no such thing as a free lunch”.
I rely heavily on my Chef de Cabinet, Susana Malcorra. Although she is mostly cooking recipes for progress at the United Nations, she once invited me to her home. She prepared a delicious meal for me by hand. I am not sure if I am allowed to recommend her to your club but I do think she deserves this fame. She is a “chef” in more than one sense of the word!
As I said, one of the many pleasures of my job is sharing meals cooked by some of the world’s top chefs. Often our memories are defined by what we have eaten. I have tasted seal meat and reindeer in the Arctic Circle, the local specialties of Mozambique, and a banquet of fish from the Euphrates Delta.
I have eaten hurried sandwiches on UN flights. And once, on an unscheduled bus journey in South America, my whole delegation found ourselves dining in a roadside cafeteria in Argentina. We ate the local pastry called alfajores.
I have shared tables with presidents and princes and tasted the finest cuisine from around the world. I fondly remember my recent visit to Monaco where I dined with Prince Albert II. Every day, here in New York or when I travel, I attend a lunch or dinner — often both — with ambassadors and other dignitaries.
I have grown to appreciate the variety of food the world has to offer and the skills of the chefs who prepare it. But, whenever and wherever I eat, I always remember those less fortunate.
In today’s world, nearly 900 million people are undernourished. In a world of plenty, it is unacceptable that people should wake and go to bed hungry. Every year, more than 90 million people receive food thanks to the UN. That is why food and nutrition security are among my top priorities.
Last year, I launched the Zero Hunger Challenge – to encourage partnership that will help every man, woman and child enjoy the right to food. This is essential to meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
The Zero Hunger Challenge is helping millions of poor farmers to become more productive, grow more nutritious food and enhance their incomes. We are working to end childhood malnutrition, make all food systems sustainable, and end waste.
Globally, more than 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted each year through poor infrastructure or often simply because it does not meet the cosmetic demands of retailers.
Tonight you will prepare dinner for 250 homeless people in Harlem. I commend your efforts to combat poverty and hunger in partnership with “Harvest”, and I look forward to hearing further about your work.
I also invite you to consider how to contribute to the Zero Hunger Challenge. Perhaps, for instance, you could look at how your kitchens could purchase food from poor local producers.
Look also how to further eliminate waste. Tell everyone about the Zero Hunger Challenge and ask them join our movement. I know your example would be inspiring to chefs everywhere. Thank you.