What is the CASK project?

The CASK (Climate Aware Sustainable Kitchen) project is an initiative based in Ireland and Crete that aims to address the climate crisis through sustainable food practices. The project brings together Irish chefs, organic growers, and media specialists to collaborate with their counterparts at the Mediterranean Agronomics Institute of Chania (MAICh) in Crete, Greece.
The project recognises the significance of the Mediterranean diet, known for its health benefits, and explores its potential in contributing to climate recovery. Among the chefs who have agreed to lend their expertise to the project are Visham Sumputh, head chef at Dublin’s Etto restaurant, and Jonathan Smith, owner of Ernesto’s in Rathmines. They may, at first glance, seem like two chefs from different food traditions, but their passion for good food, made with sustainable, local, and seasonal ingredients, is the strong, uniting factor.
These chefs, along with chef Giota Tsounapi of MAICh and Stelios Trilyrakis, owner of Dounias Taverna, a ‘slow-food’ restaurant in the Cretan mountains, where everything is produced and foraged on-site before being cooked without the use of electricity or gas, worked together in Crete in the early development of the project.
CASK aims to address the loss of connection between people and food in modern societies, particularly in Ireland. The shift towards ultra-processed foods and the detachment from natural, local, and seasonal produce have led to environmental damage. The CASK project seeks to revive the connection with traditional food practices and promote healthier, sustainable choices.
In the next phase of the project, Cretan chefs will visit Ireland to collaborate with ten Irish food service industry professionals. The goal is to explore how the ethos of the Mediterranean diet can be adapted to utilise locally grown, seasonal ingredients in Ireland. The project is led by Sonairte, the National Ecology Centre of Ireland, and will involve a one-day workshop at Sonairte’s organic gardens and heritage orchards.
During the workshop, the chefs will identify shared ingredients between the two countries and brainstorm Irish alternatives for those that cannot be grown in Ireland’s climate. By foraging for ingredients and cooking alongside Cretan experts, they will gain knowledge to pass on to the other participating chefs. The project aspires to be the start of a movement that helps repair the relationship between the Irish people and their environment. Alongside the project coordinators, Sonairte, a second Irish partner, EurAV, is tasked with creating a digital cookbook that will contain the recipes developed during the Irish-Cretan culinary collaboration, along with suggestions for Irish ingredients that can be substituted for imports. EurAV will contribute their expertise in recipe development and digital publishing to ensure the cookbook showcases the sustainable and climate-aware aspects of the project.
The one-day workshop, scheduled for August, will see the chefs begin the day by foraging for the ingredients they will use in their Cretan-influenced recipes. After a day of cooking, members of the public will be invited to Sonairte to sample the foods and provide their feedback.
The progress of the project, funded by the EU under its Erasmus Plus programme, can be followed on the project’s website at caskproject.eu or on social media platforms such as Instagram (@caskproject.eu) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/CASKproject).

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