State Department introduces ‘food diplomacy’ program

The new partnership with the James Beard Foundation, a non-profit culinary arts organization named for the so-called “Dean of American Cookery,” establishes an American Chef Corps comprised of around 80 food professionals who may be deployed to travel abroad as “chef ambassadors,” cook for visiting dignitaries, speak to groups, write articles, blog, tweet or find other ways to extol the virtues of American cooking and food products. Top Chef contestant and Graffiato chef Mike Isabella is currently visiting embassies and restaurants in Greece and Turkey in the program’s inaugural mission.

A smaller group, including Jose Andres, Rick Bayless, Duff Goldman, past and present White House chefs Cristeta Comerford, Sam Kass, Roland Mesnier, William Yosses and Walter Scheib, as well as other chefs who have participated directly in diplomatic meals and special programs, were introduced as the inaugural Class of State Chefs. As James Beard Foundation Susan Ungaro said, Hillary Clinton had observed throughout her tenures as first lady and Secretary of State, “Better and more effective diplomacy can happen around a dining table than at a conference table.”

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