5@5 - Why chefs should be leaders in the discussion on hunger
October 16th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
Share this on:

5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Editor's Note: José Andrés is an internationally acclaimed chef. Among his accolades, he was named "Outstanding Chef" by the James Beard Foundation in 2011 and  one of "The 100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2012 by TIME Magazine. Tomorrow, he will be in Iowa at the World Food Prize participating in discussions on food security as part of the Borlaug Dialogue. The dialogues are named after Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Norman Borlaug, who spent his life working to find solutions to feed hungry people across the world.

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are,” might be Brillat-Savarin’s most famous quote, but something else he said that I find more powerful is: “The future of nations will depend on the manner in which they feed themselves.”

Today, on World Food Day, I think that statement has an even truer meaning and urges us to look around at our world and the importance of food. And why would words like this have such a profound impact on me, a chef? Chefs - all of us - feed the few, in our restaurants and at special events, but I believe we have the power and responsibility to help feed the many.

Hunger and obesity, nutrition and malnutrition, access or lack thereof to healthy foods, sustainable food systems: these are issues that governments, civic leaders, agencies, non-profits and medical professionals all come together to discuss. I believe that when any group comes together at a table to discuss food issues, we need to have a chef at that table.

Here are five reasons why chefs are leaders in the discussion on food, hunger and nutrition and how you can help support them and these issues.

1. We may feed the few, but we can help feed the many.
Chefs offer their time and talent to bring attention to how we will feed our world in the years ahead. Right now, chefs like Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and Jamie Oliver are supporting Oxfam’s GROW campaign, to draw attention to five steps you can take to help ensure there will be enough food for all, including; eat less meat, reduce food waste, support small-scale and sustainable food producers, cook smarter and buy seasonal. As chefs, we work with organizations like Oxfam to enrich their projects with culinary tools, recipes and ideas.

2. We know how to get the most out of foods.
Chefs are at the end of a long chain of individuals who work hard to feed people. Farmers, beekeepers, bakers, scientists, fishermen, grocers, we are all part of that chain, all food people, all dedicated to feeding the world. And because we hold the power to change the goodness of the earth into meals, we hold the key to feed people in the right way.

This week, chefs are joining with ONE to put the humble sweet potato forward as a key to helping address childhood malnutrition. You can join chefs to call leaders to act to put nutrition on the agenda and learn more about how little initiatives - like the sweet potato - can help bring about change.

3. We can empower people through food.
Whether it's helping turn someone’s life around as DC Central Kitchen has done here in Washington D.C., chefs and educators can help teach life-changing skills in the culinary industry to take someone off the streets and into a job that feeds the city.

Chefs can also transform a community by bringing skills and knowledge to create food businesses that can feed and employ those families. At World Central Kitchen, my team and I are working to build a school cafeteria in Haiti for the children of the Palmiste Tampe Community. Near Port-au-Prince, we are also helping to build a bakery at an orphanage that will not only provide bread for the children but for the community.

4. We set a table where food issues can move forward through diplomacy.
Secretary Hillary Clinton knew this and it led the State Department to recently create the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership where chefs are called to be a resource for diplomatic efforts as part of the American Chef Corps. Through our cooking, our travels, our exchange of ideas, chefs will help put food into the discussion that face our leaders.

As the Secretary of State has said, "Better and more effective diplomacy can happen around a dining table than at a conference table."

5. We have the passion, hospitality, and ability to mobilize the masses.
As chefs, we cook to please people, to nourish people. We are passionate about taking care of people, whether they are dining at our restaurant tables or at the table of a shelter. I don’t know any group of professionals that mobilize as fast and as often as chefs do when there are people who are in need. I am honored and humbled by my culinary friends who work hard on so many causes and who use their ability to reach their restaurant guests, fans, friends and partners to bring awareness to the food issues we face: hunger, nutrition, obesity and sustainability.

From Share our Strength to Citymeals-on-Wheels, Wholesome Wave to Wellness in the Schools, these organizations and so many like them and the amazing chefs that support them along with their own foundations should give us plenty of reason to keep striving to have chefs at the table when decisions are being made on how we will feed our future.

Take action in your community and around the world. by visiting WorldFoodDayUSA.org and Facebook to see what's happening near you.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

Posted by:
Filed under: 5@5 • Celebrity Chefs • Hunger • Jose Andres • News • Think • World Food Day

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. tim0no1988


    October 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  2. Just Sayin'

    I like sourdough pretzels. I'm now a food expert.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  3. SilentBoy741

    I don't think people who make their living by serving entrees the size of an Oreo cookie, then charging you $120 for it, should be considered qualified to discuss solutions for world hunger.

    October 18, 2012 at 5:22 am |
    • ChefDave

      Oh I see SilentBoy, you apparently work in the business and know all there is to know about being a chef. What do you know of Chef's qualifications? You have no idea what it takes to make that small amount of food worth $120 do you? Stay silent if you don't know what you are talking about.

      October 19, 2012 at 10:21 am |
      • Lout

        Bit it, Dave. You think too highly of your profession.

        October 19, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  4. frank groff

    Chef Bruno Serato of the Anaheim White House in So Calif. was named one of CNN's Top 10 Heroes last year for feeding poor "motel kids" every night for the past 6 years (that's nearly 500,000 meals so far). He even mortgaged his home to keep the program going as the economy has reduced the number of guests at his fine dining restaurant while the number of motel kids continues to climb. He has completely financed the entire program until he started a nonprofit called Caterina's Club to help defray costs. He is a true example of a humanitarian who is actively stamping out hunger in his own backyard even at his own expense.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  5. SteveDave

    soylent green is people

    October 17, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • SilentBoy741

      Is it racist to ask what Soylent Green Light is made of?

      October 18, 2012 at 5:25 am |
  6. Truth™


    October 16, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
| Part of

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,974 other followers