Chefs Are Becoming Official Diplomats

Mike Isabella, José Andrés, and more chefs are set to become culinary ambassadors abroad, Washington Post reports
Staff Writer
José Andrés

Darko Zagar

While we're more than accustomed to running across waiters-slash-musicians, or chefs-slash-rock-stars and bartenders-slash-actors, it looks like a more political job is heading into the multi-tasking food world.

The Washington Post reports that the James Beard Foundation is teaming up with the State Department to launch the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership Sept. 7, hoping to "elevate the role of culinary engagement in America’s formal and public diplomacy efforts."

Apparently the initiative started with U.S. Chief of Protocol Capricia Penavic Marshall, backed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Up first on the roster? Mike Isabella, José Andrés (obviously), former White House chef Walter Scheib, Vikram Sunderam, Bryan Voltaggio, April Bloomfield, and Rick Bayless. Most, if not all, of these chefs have cooked up meals for diplomat visits.

"The working meals I attend with foreign leaders build stronger bonds between countries and offer an important setting to further the vital diplomatic work we conduct every day," Clinton told the Washington Post. So naturally, the diplomats will be cooking up food for important meals and more. According to Marshall, the team of chefs may "meet with an embassy, cook a lunch, post blogs or [write] articles, speak at events."

Of course, the use of food in diplomacy is not new; back in July the annual meeting of "Le Club des Chefs des Chefs," or the club of chefs of chiefs, demonstrated how chefs create food to ease relationships and pave the way for smooth discussions. This will just make chefs' country representation even more official. No pressure.

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