Chefs as Catalysts for Change — Storified

Update: In celebration of Food Day, which is today, here is a compilation of the tweets STORIFIED from Monday’s panel discussion — which went swimmingly! We learned so much from the panelists and keynote speaker Chef Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen.

photo 1

And, for those of you who couldn’t make it, “farm-to-table” is out — isn’t everything essentially coming from a farm to a table?, Gjerde reasoned — and “community sourcing” is in. And “restorative” is the new “sustainable.”

We learned about how chefs can rethink their sourcing and food waste, how more consumers are demanding higher animal welfare standards and how Meatless Mondays came to be. We got the most succinct and helpful summation of the U.S. Farm Bill-in-15-minutes I’ve ever seen and we got to hear about a phone call that one local livestock farmer dreads: a “sustainable” chef asking for 100 pounds of tenderloin.

FoodPolicy.US, one of the event’s sponsors, will be posting a video soon of the full discussion, which I’ll link to here. Watching it would be well worth your time! A huge thanks to all those who participated and organized!

Chefs as Catalysts Logo

I’m honored that Michelle Brown, Co-Owner of Teaism, has asked me to moderate a panel discussion at the Chefs as Catalysts for Change event coming up on Monday, Oct. 21st. The event, part of a broader series of programs associated with Food Day and sponsored by, will take place from 3:30 to 6 p.m. at the Navy Memorial Heritage Center in DC. (I attended the first such last year last year as a journalist and quoted some of the panelists in this and other articles.)

This year, Spike Gjerde (yes, the chef who cans) will be back as the keynote speaker and certainly a pioneer in the field of chefs who are thoughtfully considering how they source and prepare food. The event focuses on how DC chefs can be powerful mouthpieces for the environment from which their food comes.

(Pictured: Thoughtful preparations by the thoughtful Chef Jeff Witte at the Airlie Center‘s Harvest Dinner Sept. 29.)

This event seeks to educate local chefs on the many facets of the nation’s food supply to enable them to make informed decisions about what they source, where they source it and how that information is parlayed onto plates. These chefs feed the nation’s leaders and policy makers — along with us regular folk — and have tangible opportunities every day to translate the stories of our food to a wider audience.

To cater this year’s event to the chefs, organizers assembled a board of prominent DC chefs to ask them what they’d like to learn more about. Chefs Ris Lacoste, Anthony Lombardo, Sean Sullivan, Todd Gray, Oliver Friendly and Richie Brandenberg helped them craft key topics for the panel discussion, to include food policy and politics, labeling and certifications and best practices for the industry.

Gaining Ground cover photo

I’ll be moderating the discussion for a great panel that features Forrest Pritchard,sustainable farmer and author of Gaining Ground; Julia Wolfson, former chef and current fellow at the Center for a Livable Future at John’s Hopkins University; Garrett Graddy, Professor of global, environmental and agricultural policy at American University, and Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for the Humane Society of the United States.

We hope to help chefs take a closer look at what’s on their plates and define their role as influencers of the future of food. The event will cater to chefs, culinary students, restaurant owners, farmers and associates from local fish and produce companies. Those interested in a sustainable food supply are welcome to attend.

RSVP to the event here. And check out the dozens of other Food Day events going on in DC here.

Speaking of sustainable food systems, check out my article in today’s Washington Post Food section and online here. I’ve been following Wendy & Sharon’s progress toward launching the Wide Net Project since I met them on a boat trip with Steve Vilnit this time last year. It was great to finally see their story in print!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: