GO MONDAY: Chefs as Catalysts for Change 2015

You know it’s fall in Washington, D.C., when there’s a panel discussion every afternoon and a new restaurant opening (or reopening) every night of the week. It’s our annual, pre-hibernation fall fest, and we do it well.

Still, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be this time of year, when the leaves tempt us with their inevitable turning into a parade of color and the region’s farms produce such bounty that we’re reminded why we celebrate Thanksgiving among the apples and squashes rather than the watermelons and tomatoes.

Fall is also the beginning of that winter-long reflection on how to grow better, source better and eat better in the year to come. Just as you do it on the homefront, farmers do it in the field and chefs do it at their restaurants. And I’m thrilled to be a small part of that process again this year.

I’ll be moderating the fourth-annual Chefs as Catalysts for Change event next week as part of Washington’s annual Food Day celebration. The event on Monday, Oct. 19 from 2 to 5 p.m. is free and open to the public.

Launched by Teaism’s Michelle Brown four years ago, #CCC2015 aims to give back to the chefs of whom we ask so much (Cook for free at my charity? Speak at my event? Be a celebrity on the side of full-time work?). The afternoon brings a host of food topic experts into the same room for a chef-minded short course on the toughest food decisions of our day.

What should chefs know about antibiotics in meat? What are nanoparticles? Should I be serving smaller portions of proteins, or is meatless Monday a fad? How do I know whether my fish distributor is pulling one over on me? And how are chefs at the center of where food policy is made supposed to stay on top of the latest changes?

First, we’ll hear from one of DC’s own chef Anthony Lombardo on navigating the minefield of food issues at the helm of Clyde Restaurant Group’s flagship, The Hamilton. Hailing from Detroit and most recently from Georgetown’s 1789 Restaurant, Lombardo brings a straightforward perspective to the issues, helping chefs like him consider how to make the most sustainable decisions in the kitchen, both for the environment and for their boss’s bottom lines.

Then we’ll hear from the sort of experts that chefs might not have time to ring up on their day off to ask burning questions about the resiliency of our local food supply:

Laura Rogers, deputy director of the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center at George Washington University will brief us on latest from the frontlines of antibiotic overuse and misuse in our foods. There’s been a lot of changes on this front recently and no shortage of pledges from national chains pledging to reduce their participation in what appears to be a mounting antibiotics problem. So what does a chef need to know?

We’ll pull from the local foodshed to hear from Mike Wilson, vice president of sales at Shenandoah Valley Organic, which is growing the number of organic, GMO-feed-free, hormone-free and humanely grown chickens available in the state. Perhaps most importantly, he can explain to chefs why the jargon matters and what they should consider when choosing chicken for their own menus.

At the other end of the protein spectrum is Nina Damato, supply chain manager at Blue Circle Foods, which focuses on sourcing sustainable seafood. She’ll help us wade into the deep world of seafood sourcing, how chefs’ menus could better reflect what the ocean can sustainably produce (and, perhaps, how to avoid trisodium polyphosphate in shrimp?).

We’ll also hear from Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs for the Center for Food Safety. He’ll give us insight into how chefs who feed policymakers every day (especially in Washington) can lobby for better food systems with their offerings and menus. O’Neil will also help distill the latest food topics on the congressional front (GMO labeling, organic vs. non, climate change) into something more palatable.

To get a better sense of the event, check out this video from the CCC event I moderated two years ago.

And, if you’re in for a real treat, this excerpt from Baltimore chef Spike Gjerde’s keynote comments at the event. We have so much to learn from the food, science and policy geniuses in our midst.

The event is aimed at chefs but also open to the general public. The panel discussions will start promptly at 2 p.m. this coming Monday at the Navy Memorial Heritage Center, 701 Pennyslvania Ave., NW, in Washington, D.C., near the Archives metro stop. Register for a free ticket here and participate on social media at #CCC2015.

Hope to see you then!
W

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  1. […] my docket was the Chefs as Catalysts for Change event I moderated last week as part of Food Day, the Smithsonian’s kick-off panel discussions […]



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