Nine Questions with Rodney Scruggs, Executive Chef at Occidental Grill & Seafood

From by Lani Furbank
Nine Questions with Rodney Scruggs, Executive Chef at Occidental Grill & Seafood

Food Tank, in partnership with American University, is hosting the 2nd Annual Food Tank Summit in Washington, D.C. on April 20–21, 2016. 

This two-day event will feature more than 75 different speakers from the food and agriculture field. Researchers, farmers, chefs, policymakers, government officials, and students will come together for panels on topics including food waste, urban agriculture, family farmers, farm workers, and more. 

Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Rodney Scruggs, the Executive Chef at Occidental Grill & Seafood, who will be speaking at the summit.

Food Tank (FT): What inspired you to get involved in food and agriculture?

Rodney Scruggs (RS): Food: my mom and grandmother. Agriculture: a need and responsibility, a concern for the future, and the relationships of the farms and shepherds and growers.

FT: What do you see as the biggest opportunity to fix the food system?

RS: As a chef, decreasing waste and [finding] a balance of portion sizing.

FT: What innovations in agriculture and the food system are you most excited about?

RS: I really love the [idea of moving] fish hatcheries out of the water onto land.

FT: Can you share a story about a food hero that inspired you?

RS: I’m not much of a story teller. I believe stories are private, to a point. Let’s just say this: my food hero is Chef Jeff Buben, owner of Vidalia, Bistro Bis, and Woodward Table. With that, let the story begin. I would not be here [or] have my passion for food if he didn’t enter my life.

FT: What drives you every day to fight for the bettering of our food system?

RS: Simply the future – how much food there is to go around. As well as seeing for the unseen future that rockfish and oysters that will remain in the Bay, and shrimp and snapper stay from the gulf. Continuing to use beef from Roseda Farms and lamb from Mr. Jamison.

FT: What’s the biggest problem within the food system our parents and grandparents didn't have to deal with?

RS: Population growth and synthetic food. I would love if families would cook more meals and gatherings, or allow the restaurants to.

FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

RS: Cut back a portion of what you eat. Purchase and then eat what you buy. Buy Local.

FT: What’s one issue within the food system you’d like to see completely solved for the next generation?

RS: Education and grassroots efforts. Better food for American school cafeterias.

FT: What agricultural issue would you like for the next president of the United States to immediately address?

RS: Start talking about it. Package labeling of sustainable items.

To find out more about the event, see the full list of speakers, and purchase tickets, please click HERE. Interested participants who cannot join can also sign up for the live-stream HERE.

To join us at Food Tank's São Paulo, Brazil Summit in September 2016, please click HERE. To join us at Food Tank's Sacramento, CA Summit September 22-23, 2016, please click HERE. To join us at Food Tank's Chicago, IL Summit November 16-17, 2016, please click HERE

Want to become a sponsor of the Food Tank Summit? Please click HERE

Want to suggest a speaker for one of the Summits? Please click HERE

Want to watch videos from last year's Food Tank Summit? Please click HERE

Sponsors for this year's Food Tank Summit in Washington, D.C. include: Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition, Chaia DC, Chipotle, Clif Bar, D.C. Government, Driscoll's, Edible DC, Elevation Burger, Fair Trade USA, Food and Environment Reporting Network, Global Environmental Politics Program of the School of International Service, Greener Media, Inter Press Service, Leafware, Niman Ranch, Organic Valley, Panera Bread, and VegFund. 

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