Fifteen chefs will gather at the Inn at Serenbe (Chatt Hills, Georgia) from March 18-20, for the James Beard Foundation’s (JBF) 14th Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change. This is the second time The Inn at Serenbe will be hosting the Chefs Boot Camp, setting the scene for a diverse group of chefs from across the country to learn effective advocacy skills while exploring the multifaceted issues and opportunities around the upcoming Farm Bill.

“The current Farm Bill will expire in September 2018. This nearly $1 trillion spending bill sets the agenda for almost every aspect of our national food policy, including funding for various programs designed to make sure that Americans don’t go hungry,” says Kris Moon, vice president of the James Beard Foundation. “The bill is expansive, complicated, and often feels daunting to try to understand. At this Boot Camp we will be educating this powerful community of chefs on the breadth of what the bill covers and the importance of using their voices to support the components they feel most passionately about.”

Participating chefs are provided training from industry and political experts, which includes classroom work, mock interviews, social media campaign creation, hands-on activities that engage the chefs with local natural resources, a collaborative dinner cooked by the attendees, and strategic brainstorming about effective action points, and more.

The upcoming Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change will immerse participating chefs in sessions led by Katherine Miller, JBF’s senior director of food policy advocacy. These sessions include:

Why Chefs Voices Matter: What is advocacy, why we do it, how we do it, and what to expect from policy; engaging chefs on food-system issues.

How Policy Happens: Overview of policy change at state and federal levels, illustrated using food waste as an example of a pressing policy issue.

ABCs of the Farm Bill: The nearly trillion-dollar food and agriculture bill will come up for consideration and approval in 2018. Chefs will learn about the different agriculture and feeding programs included in the legislation and explore ways to get involved in the debate. 

A is for Advocacy: Why we need campaigns, how they work, and how we build them.

 Farm Activities and Collaborative Dinner: Chefs tour The Inn at Serenbe and cook dinner together using ingredients harvested from the farm and sourced from local purveyors; they then sit down together and share the meal that they’ve prepared.

The upcoming Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change will be attended by the following chefs:

  • Karen Akunowicz, Boston, MA
  • Marco Canora, NYC, NY
  • Maneet Chauhan, Nashville, TN (returning alumni)
  • Christine Cikowski, Chicago, IL
  • Kelly Fields, New Orleans, LA
  • Gregory Gourdet, Portland, OR
  • Tanya Holland, Oakland, CA
  • Meherwan Irani, Ashville, NC
  • Sara Kramer, Los Angeles, CA
  • Ed Lee, Washington D.C.
  • Brian Moll, Serenbe, GA (host chef)
  • Kevin Nashan, St. Louis, MO
  • Roshara Sanders, Bridgeport, CT
  • Deborah VanTrece, Atlanta, GA
  • Greg Vernick, Philadelphia, PA

The Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change was launched in July 2012 in collaboration with JBF Award–winning chef and founder of Wholesome Wave, Michel Nischan, and JBF trustee and founder of Arabella Advisors, Eric Kessler. The initiative is a part of the Foundation’s broader Impact Programs, which engage the culinary community in the ongoing process of creating a sustainable food system that provides nutritious and delicious food for all.

Other JBF Impact Programs include conducting a national dialogue on food-system issues at Issue Summits in cities around the country; local advocacy trainings in cities around the country; the annual JBF Food Summit, which brings together a diverse group of food-system thought leaders; annual JBF Leadership Awards, which recognize visionaries helping to create a more healthful, sustainable, and safe food world; Culinary Labs, which engage chefs in hands-on opportunities around food-systems issues; Smart Catch, a sustainable seafood menu assessment program created for chefs with the purpose of increasing the sustainability of the seafood supply chain; and the ongoing advocacy and issue support provided by JBF’s Chef Action Network.

More than 900 chefs have applied to the Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change program since 2012. Participants are selected to represent regional and topic interest diversity, with consideration given to the voice that each chef has within their local community and on a national level. The program is generously supported by the Carl M. Freeman Foundation in memory of chef Matt Haley; the Distinguished Vineyards portfolio, including Argyle, MacRostie, and Wither Hills wineries; Niman Ranch; the Osprey Foundation; and Windstar Cruises.  

A full list of chefs who have attended the previous Boot Camps can be viewed here. Follow hashtag #JBFImpact and #ChefsLead on Twitter and Instagram to track the chefs’ progress. For additional information, view the Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change video feature on JBF’s YouTube channel. To apply to or support future Chefs Boot Camps for Policy and Change, please visit

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