Opinion: Chick-fil-A controversy leaves a bitter taste for some longtime fans
January 31st, 2013
03:00 PM ET
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Chefs with Issues is a platform for chefs and farmers we love, fired up for causes about which they're passionate. Virginia Willis, a graduate of L'Academie de Cuisine and Ecole de Cuisine LaVarenne, is the author of "Bon Appétit, Y’all" and "Basic to Brilliant, Y'all."

As a chef and food writer, I rarely eat fast food. The quality is generally atrocious and much of it is radically unhealthy. The menu offerings are the polar opposite of local and seasonal. There are dire implications concerning worker’s rights and wages, as well as animal welfare and factory farms.

It doesn’t matter where you are in the country, every interstate exit is identical with the same usual suspects offering the same sad sacks of chemically laced, artificially flavored fare, all swimming in high-fructose corn syrup. Cheap, fast food is at the core of what is wrong with our food system.

Yet, there’s one thing that trumps my French-training and chef sensibilities; I love Chick-fil-A.
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Chefs with Issues: Artisanal angst
October 31st, 2012
02:00 PM ET
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Chefs with Issues is a platform for chefs and farmers we love, fired up for causes about which they're passionate. Emily Myers is the founder of Emily G's, a gourmet jam, sauce and relish line.

I hate the word “artisan." Its use is so prolific that it means little anymore. Now, it is often used to judge the authenticity of food and, admittedly, I spoke this word quite frequently in the early days of Emily G’s. I felt like an "artisan” as I struggled to produce, market, deliver and manage our budding jam company. I was true to my craft as I picked the berries I canned, labeled jars late into the night and, consequently, missed entire soccer seasons. It was brutal but fulfilling at the same time.

This was unsustainable. It became apparent that I could either make the products or manage the company, but not both. However, I was convinced that the authenticity of our food depended on my hands making the jams. Isn’t that what makes me an “artisan” and our jams “authentic”? The reality was that we could not produce enough fast enough to keep up with sales. We were working hard enough to kill ourselves, but making little money. We weren’t returning phone calls. We hadn’t seen our children. We were a company on the edge of implosion.
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Chefs with Issues: Immigrants in the kitchen
June 20th, 2012
10:00 AM ET
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Chefs with Issues is a platform for chefs and farmers we love, fired up for causes about which they're passionate. John Currence is the chef and owner of City Grocery Restaurant Group in Oxford, Mississippi. In 2006, he received the Southern Foodways Alliance "Guardian of Tradition" award, and in 2009, he was recognized by the James Beard Foundation as "Best Chef South."

I am an odd animal. I am a chef and restaurateur with conservative fiscal views and liberal social ones. I consider myself reasonable.

While one part of me is extremely happy with the executive order President Obama issued last week which will allow certain younger, "qualifying" immigrants to apply for work permits, without fear of reprisal, another part of me is entirely disappointed that this homogenized edict is as far as he was willing to go in, what amounts to, an attempt to grab a fistful of votes in the coming election.
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Chefs with Issues: Buying food is a political act
June 4th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
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Chefs with Issues is a platform for chefs and farmers we love, fired up for causes about which they're passionate. Jay Pierce is the chef at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in Greensboro and Cary, North Carolina and frequently contributes to Edible Piedmont Magazine and the restaurant's Farm-to-Fork blog.

As this year’s political season wends its way to Election Day, we voters will be implored to act, decide, stand up for what we believe in.  Our voice matters; as every child learns in school, one vote can make a difference.  No matter how disaffected or energized you are by rhetorical jousting about healthcare, debt ceilings or foreign aid, there is one topic that hits close to everyone’s home: buying and eating food. 
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