JB Dubois is Head Chef at GIY’s GROW HQ in Waterford City and his wife, Shona Dubois, is the Head of Operations with the organisation.
For Waterford Harvest Festival, JB will team up with fellow chef Conor Spacey to cook a delicious meal for 50 diners entirely from donated food waste, to launch the Irish hub of the global Chef’s Manifesto Movement. Shona co-ordinates the social enterprise’s growing campaigns, educational programmes and retail space. They are parents to Daisy, 11, and Oscar, 6.
Shona: “I’m really lucky I got involved with GIY early on and worked my way up. When I started there were six of us in a little office and now there are 25 staff. JB and I work for a social enterprise with a real mission and purpose behind what we do; understanding the challenges and the pressures of each other’s jobs makes parenting easier.
There’d be times of the year where I’d be busier and need JB to pick up the slack at home, and vice versa, so it works well for us.
JB: “I’m originally from the North East of France. I’ve been a chef in Ireland for 20 years, and it’s time for chefs to change, and parents too. We need to become as sustainable as possible. Ireland has made huge progress but there’s lots more to do.
“When I was a kid in France, we always had a canteen in school and the meal was a central part of the education system, part of the routine of the day.
“When we had kids and they went to school in Ireland, I was really horrified to see that we had to pack lunches for them because there were no canteen facilities and they can be given between seven and 10 minutes to eat their lunch.
“I do most of the food shopping and I always bring the kids with me, to help me choose foods and see the way I shop.
“I try to get less packaging and make sure it’s recyclable whenever possible, and as local as possible too. We don’t buy drinks in plastic bottles, we get all glass, even though it might be more expensive.
“To help with food waste, we’ve started a fun thing at home: Friday Tapas, where we eat all the leftovers from the week.
“Everyone can help themselves; the kids really like it because it’s very informal and they can choose what they want.”
Shona: “We moved house to Tramore in February. In time, we’ll use the garden to grow to our own vegetables; it’s a really mature garden so it’s going to take a while to figure out where to put our veg beds.
All we got done this year was some onions and potatoes and our herb garden. We’ve some work to do in the house that we’re concentrating on first.
“We’re a two-car family; there are these challenges you come up against when you’re trying to make the right decisions and cars are definitely one of them.
“We haven’t found a way to operate without two. I’d love to go electric, but we’ve just bought a house and it’s not an option for us at the moment.
“But moving to Tramore has been great. I come home on Friday and park up outside the house and don’t generally need to get in the car again until I go back to work on Monday because there’s everything here; playgrounds and shops and places to go with the kids, so we’re definitely using the cars less at weekends.”
“We’ve replaced all our bathroom products with plastic-free alternatives; we have shampoo bars and bamboo toothbrushes.
“When you look around the house and see how much single-use plastic you bring home it’s boggling, but there’s a really good selection of Irish products that you can start replacing stuff with.”
“Daisy is going into sixth class and Oscar is going into first class in Tramore Educate Together. We have conversations all the time and they’re very aware.
“Because of the work that I do, I’m really aware of the changes that are happening in society. We don’t use straws or buy balloons anymore. I used to always get them helium balloons on their birthday and they’d run down and get them in the morning.
“They loved it, but we stopped doing it because we had a conversation about the fact that they don’t degrade and have an environmental impact and they’re ok with that.”
JB: “We’re trying to give them the best and show them how to do their best for the world. I wouldn’t do the job that I do if I didn’t believe we can actually change our habits and save the world.
“We are changing; we’re doing a lot of work with schools as well as at home. It’s easier to change the next generation than change the habits of our generation, but in that respect I am hopeful.”