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11 Chefs that are Advocating for Local and Sustainable Food

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This post comes courtesy of Danielle Nierenberg of Food Tank: The Food Think Tank

In the restaurant world, using local and sustainable ingredients is becoming more and more prevalent. Chefs are now seen as arbiters of change – they can introduce their patrons to local farms, local ingredients and fresh, sustainable food. Many have also done work out of the kitchen through foundations that provide access to good food to school children and other members of their communities.

I had the pleasure of talking to Chef Josh Kroner of Terrapin Restaurant in New York’s Hudson Valley. He says that when he first moved to the Valley the “idea of using local products was almost foreign” and that most restaurants “had no connection to local farms.” But Kroner has had the opportunity over the last decade to develop relationships with farmers and farmers’ market and highlight the flavors of food that is grown locally.

And Kroner isn’t alone. Each of these 11 chefs is a pioneer in the sustainability movement. Let their food philosophies serve as an inspiration for your own Independence Day festivities!

1. Chef José Andrés ”“ Andrés is chef at Jaleo in Washington, D.C. and founder of ThinkFoodGroup, which oversees all of his projects, including cookbooks, TV shows, consulting, and non-profits. Andrés is a contributing voice in the discussions surrounding how food can impact the world. He is a speaker this year at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Conference, and has collaborated on food security projects in developing countries, including Haiti.

2. Chef Dan Barber ”“ Barber is the chef and co-owner of Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Westchester County, New York, and the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, Barber has worked to “create a consciousness around our everyday food choices.” He  educates his patrons about where their food comes from and the good agricultural practices it takes to grow the food he serves.

3. Chef Rick Bayless ”“ Chicago chef Rick Bayless created the Frontera Farmer Foundation, which awards capital development grants to small farms in the Chicago area that are working to promote sustainable practices.

4. Chef Ann Cooper ”“ Known as the Renegade Lunch Lady, Cooper has worked as an advocate for feeding children better school lunches. She has been successful in bringing fresh, local food into school lunch systems in the Berkeley and Boulder areas, and promotes the return to cooking from scratch in school cafeterias.

5. Chef Jose Garces ”“ In addition to acting as the chef and owner of several Philadelphia-area restaurants, Garces maintains a 40-acre sustainable and organic farm, Luna Farms, which supplies food to his restaurants and serves as a tool for educating area children about sustainable and healthy eating.

6. Chef Sam Kass ”“ The Assistant Chef at the White House and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives, Chef Kass has been instrumental in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to help stop childhood obesity. He has also worked to create and maintain the White House vegetable garden and beehives, which have fed the First Family, White House staff and guests, as well as provided donations to local food shelters.

7. Chef Jamie Oliver ”“ As founder of the Jamie Oliver Foundation, Oliver has been a pioneer of the sustainable food movement with a variety of projects. He works toward better school lunch programs, reduction of food waste, increasing the amount of time families spend in the kitchen, and the promotion of eating fresh, wholesome foods.

8. Chef Barton Seaver ”“ Washington, D.C.-based Seaver has been instrumental in teaching his patrons about the relationship between seafood and sustainability. His focus has centered on the preservation of local and global fish supplies, and issues surrounding over-fished and destructively-fished species. He has partnered with National Geographic to create a sustainable Seafood Decision Guide.

9. Chef Bill Telepan ”“ New York City chef Bill Telepan opened his Upper West Side restaurant in order to showcase seasonal, greenmarket ingredients. Additionally, Chef Telepan works with New York City schools in order to try to reform their cafeterias, and also works with Taste of Greenmarket, an annual event promoting New York farmers and local food purveyors.

10. Chef Alice Waters ”“ Waters founded her restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley in 1971, which focuses on promoting a “good, clean and fair” food economy by using the finest and freshest of organic seasonal ingredients. She also launched The Edible Schoolyard in the Bay area, an initiative that actively engages children in all aspects of the food cycle. The project started as a one-acre garden, and then developed into a kitchen-classroom. It now designs food-based curriculum for multiple schools.

11. Chef Marc Vetri ““ Vetri is responsible for launching not only some of the highest-regarded restaurants in Philadelphia, including Vetri Ristorante, but also the Vetri Foundation for Children, whose mission it is to educate Philadelphia-area children about the importance of healthy eating through teaching and social interaction. Vetri’s foundation has reformed school lunches in several Philadelphia-area schools.

ABOUT FOOD TANK

Food Tank: The Food Think Tank, founded by Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson, is a think tank focused on feeding the world better. We research and highlight environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity and poverty and create networks of people, organizations, and content to push for food system change.

 

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Comments

  1. My favorite restaurant is one that has a farm right behind it and they get most of their food from it. You can really tell a difference in the food when its fresh and locally grown. I wish more restaurants would use fresh foods.

  2. So great to see a movement supported by many top chefs!

  3. Here in Rome there is Gabrielle Bonci who recently changed his pizza menu at Pizzarium to 100% vegetarian in support of local farmers who are suffering this year due to crop loss and bad weather. All the farms are organic and within 25km of the city

  4. Chefs not only have to think about ethical sourcing and green kitchen practices, but now they are even confronting issues of climate change. When the growing season is marked by extremes (heat and drought one year, then flooding and freezing the next), chefs are seeing a real change in the availability of foods we are used to.

    Here’s some interesting information about chefs and climate change: http://ethicalfoods.com/category/chefs/