More than a dozen chefs from around the country will convene for the James Beard Foundation (JBF)’s seventh Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change at Glynwood in Cold Spring, New York, from June 7 through June 9. This is the second time the multi-faceted program will take place at the agricultural nonprofit’s 225-acre farm. This series of workshops will provide chefs with the policy and advocacy skills they need to be effective champions for their chosen food-system causes. The intensive three-day session is programmed in partnership with the Chef Action Network (CAN) and made possible with founding support from the Osprey Foundation, with additional support provided by Glynwood.

“Over the past few years, chefs’ roles in the food world have progressed beyond cooking. These professionals have become influential champions on a variety of food issues from antibiotic overuse in animal production to food-aid reform and hunger,” says Kris Moon, senior director, strategy and development of the James Beard Foundation. “The James Beard Foundation recognizes the powerful influence chefs have in creating a healthier, more sustainable food system. Boot Camp sessions will support these chefs in developing the advocacy and policy skills they need to make their voices heard.”

The upcoming Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change will immerse participating chefs in sessions including:

Creating a Fair, Just, Sustainable, Nutritious, and Delicious Food System; and Why Chefs Matter: What is advocacy, why do we do it, how do we do it, 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 the 2015 Child Nutrition Reauthorization

Cultural/Social Influencers and Power of Networks: Educating chefs on their powerful networks that can counteract/counterbalance other influencers

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

Land-Engagement Activities: Goat harvest and butchering demo led by JBF Award winner Adam Danforth

“The network of politically engaged chefs is growing, and they are using their voices in powerful ways both at the state and federal level,” says Katherine Miller, founding executive director of the Chef Action Network. “We are excited to bring this latest group of chefs together and give them tools they need to use their voice to improve our food system."

Participating chefs for this Boot Camp include:

  • Rick Bayless, Chicago
  • Jodi Cummings, Cold Spring, New York
  • Tiffany Derry, Dallas
  • Adam Evans, Atlanta
  • Kevin Fonzo, Orlando, Florida
  • Erik Gabrynowicz, Armonk, New York
  • Ruben Garcia, Washington, D.C.
  • Evan Hanczor, New York City (Returning Alumnus)
  • Mark Noguchi, Honolulu
  • Ryan Prewitt, New Orleans
  • Steven Satterfield, Atlanta
  • Alex Seidel, Denver
  • Matt Weingarten, New York City

 "We are thrilled to be hosting a prestigious group of chefs for a second time,” says Kathleen Frith, president of Glynwood, an agricultural nonprofit that leads a variety of sustainable food and farming initiatives. “Glynwood’s mission is to ensure that farming thrives here in the Hudson Valley by working with a number of food and farming professionals. Our hope is that Boot Camp chefs once again leave here inspired to lead efforts for food-system reform in their home communities.”

The Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change, which was launched in July 2012, is conducted under the direction of JBF Award–winning chef and founder of Wholesome Wave, Michel Nischan, and James Beard Foundation trustee and founder of Arabella Advisors, Eric Kessler. At each Boot Camp, chefs receive policy and advocacy training from industry and political experts. Activities include classroom work, mock interviews, 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 next steps.

The 360-degree approach to educating and activating these powerful change makers on important food issues is made possible through CAN’s continuous support services for Boot Camp alumni, including campaign development, speech writing, media skills, and training, policy research, and preparation for visits with policy makers and other leaders, as well as ongoing regional policy salons. To date, more than 75 chefs have participated in the Boot Camp program.

The Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change is part of the James Beard Foundation's broader Impact Programs to encourage dialogue between diverse stakeholders in the food system while providing an opportunity for chefs to help influence food decisions for the larger American population. Other programs include conducting a national dialogue on food-system issues at regional salons in cities around the country; the annual JBF Food Conference, which brings together a diverse group of food-system thought leaders; the annual Leadership Awards, which recognize visionaries helping to create a more healthful, sustainable, and safe food world; and the JBF Culinary Labs, which engage chefs in hands-on opportunities around food-systems issues.

More than 575 chefs have applied to the Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change program since it launched. 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. Follow hashtag #ChefsLead on Twitter to track the chefs’ progress. For additional information, view the Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change video feature on JBF’s YouTube channel.

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