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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Chefs with Issues: Food for the heart
May 15th, 2012
12:45 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. Michael Anthony is the chef-partner at New York City's Gramercy Tavern. Last week, he received the James Beard Award for Best Chef NYC - but he almost didn't live to see that day.

In late October of last year, I underwent open heart surgery. There was no warning, no history of disease, no serious abuse that led the inner lining of my ascending aorta to tear. Sometimes things just break.

While attending a signing for the Eleven Madison Park Cookbook, I began experiencing chest pain. As I think anyone else my age (early 40s) would feel in that moment, I was in complete disbelief. I was both embarrassed that I might pass out and concerned that whatever I was experiencing might keep me from celebrating my colleagues’ big moment. After a quick exit, I returned to Gramercy Tavern. I knew something was seriously wrong.
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Chefs with Issues: The Mexico I know
May 4th, 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. Patricia Jinich is chef at the Mexican Cultural Institute. She also hosts "Pati’s Mexican Table" on National Public Television and blogs at Pati's Mexican Table.

I was born and raised in Mexico City, in a family where every taco happens to be, as my dad boasts, “the best taco you’ve ever had in your entire life." That is, until you eat the next one.

Living in the US, I am often dismayed at how my home country is portrayed in the media. For some, it’s easy to just write off the entire country as dangerous and riddled with cartel violence. As a former political analyst, I am not in denial about the hurdles my country faces, but the Mexico illustrated in some news reports is certainly not the Mexico I know and love - nor is it the Mexico experienced by the 22.67 million international tourists that visited last year.

Cooking, eating and sharing Mexican food has helped me and my Mexican-American boys connect with our heritage. Plus, I truly believe that its warm, generous, colorful cuisine has the power to make Americans fall in love with Mexico - one bite at a time.
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Filed under: Chefs with Issues • Cinco de Mayo • Cuisines • Mexican • Mexico • Think • Travel


The cook who picks cotton: reclaiming my roots
April 30th, 2012
07:45 PM ET
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Chefs with Issues is a platform for chefs, writers and farmers we love, fired up for causes about which they're passionate. Michael W. Twitty is a culinary historian, living history interpreter and Jewish educator from the Washington D.C. area. He blogs at Afroculinaria.com and thecookinggene.com. As the originator of the Cooking Gene Project, he seeks to trace his ancestry through food.

Edward Booker, Hattie Bellamy and Washington Twitty didn’t know what an organic farm was, but nearly everything they ate was organic. They enjoyed wild caught, sustainable fish; they were no strangers to free range chickens, and they ate with the seasons with almost nothing originating more than a mile or two away from their cabin door. They had gardens, composted, and ate no processed foods. Their food was fairly simple, often meatless; and it was a fusion cuisine, with ingredients drawn from five continents.

They were not culinary revolutionaries living out of the foodie playbook - they were three enslaved individuals living among the over 4 million held in bondage before the Civil War, and they were my ancestors.

In the upcoming months I will return to the fields, forests and waterways of the Old South in search of my culinary version of Roots, tracing my family tree through food from Africa to America and from slavery to freedom. The project is called The Cooking Gene: Southern Discomfort Tour.
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