Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change
“Now, with the leadership of the James Beard Foundation, chefs have even more of an opportunity to become educated and empowered to help advocate for the change we have spent our careers striving for. I have yet another reason to be a chef: because I want to create a food system in which it is a right, not a privilege, for everyone on the planet to enjoy healthy, sustainable food.”
–Maria Hines, JBF Award–winning chef of Golden Beetle and Tilth in Seattle
Background and How to Apply
The Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change provides a unique opportunity for civically and politically minded chefs to become more effective leaders for food-system change. During thematic retreats around the country, participants receive advocacy and media training while learning about important issues, challenges, and opportunities facing the food world. The goal is to build a growing network of like-minded chefs, provide support for personal interests and passions, and give tools and guidance that will help them act as influential advocates.
The James Beard Foundation accepts applications for Chefs Boot Camp on a rolling basis.
Each gathering of Chefs Boot Camp encompasses:
- A geographically, culturally, and demographically diverse group of 15 chefs
- A unique destination to facilitate group cohesion
- Policy and media training by industry and political experts on specific food-system topics
- Hands-on activities that engage chefs with local natural resources, such as harvesting and visits to local farms, slaughterhouses, fisheries, and other producers
- A collaborative dinner prepared by the participating chefs
- Educational sessions about pressing food-system topics, such as the Farm Bill or sustainable fisheries
- Exposure to campaigns of partner organizations, such as the Pew Charitable Trusts’ campaign against antibiotic overuse in livestock
- Strategic brainstorming about effective action points and next steps
September 2013: Cold Spring, New York
The most recent Chefs Boot Camp took place September 15–17 at Glynwood in New York's Hudson Valley. Participating chefs developed their policy and advocacy skills while learning about Oxfam America’s GROW campaign, which brings people together to create solutions for food, fairness, and the future of our planet.
Participants at this Chefs Boot Camp session included:
- Michael Cimarusti, Providence and Connie and Ted’s, Los Angeles (James Beard Award Nominee)
- Craig Deihl, Cypress, Charleston, SC (James Beard Award Nominee)
- Agnes Devereux, The Village TeaRoom Restaurant & Bakeshop, New Paltz, NY
- William Dissen, The Marketplace Restaurant, Asheville, NC
- Ben Hall, Russell Street Deli, Detroit
- Evan Hanczor, Parish Hall and Egg, Brooklyn, NY
- Mathew Jennings, Farmstead, Inc., Providence, RI (James Beard Award Nominee)
- Emily Luchetti, Farallon and Waterbar, San Francisco (James Beard Award Winner)
- Dena Marino, MC Kitchen, Miami
- Mary Sue Milliken, Border Grill, Los Angeles
- Andrea Reusing, Lantern, Chapel Hill, NC (James Beard Award Winner)
- Nick Wallace, Historic King Edward Hotel, Jackson, MS
- Jeff Zurofsky, ‘wichcraft and Riverpark, NYC
May 2013: Louisville, Kentucky
The second Chefs Boot Camp took place at Louisville's 21c Museum Hotel from May 12 to May 14, and focused on regional food systems. Activities included a tour of nearby Woodland Farm, known for its sustainable farming practices, heritage livestock breeds, and biofuel program; and a meeting with Louisville mayor Greg Fischer, whose policy agenda includes strengthening the role of local food in the city.
"The James Beard Foundation is continually working to take the conversation about our food system to the next level," says JBF president Susan Ungaro. "Our Chefs Boot Camp fills a critical need for hands-on policy and advocacy skills training that allows participating chefs to bring messages for constructive change out into the culinary world.”
Participating chefs at the May 2013 Boot Camp in Louisville included:
- Timon Balloo, SUGARCANE raw bar grill, Miami
- Kathy Cary, Lilly’s, Louisville, Kentucky
- Dominique Crenn, Atelier Crenn, San Francisco
- Jose Gutierrez, River Oaks, Memphis
- Chris Hastings, Hot and Hot Fish Club, Birmingham, Alabama (JBF Award winner)
- Maria Hines, Maria Hines Restaurants, Seattle (JBF Award winner and pilot Chefs Boot Camp participant)
- Sara Jenkins, Porsena, NYC
- Phil Jones, Colors Restaurant, Detroit
- Cormac Mahoney, Madison Park Conservatory, Seattle
- Kyle Mendenhall, The Kitchen Community, Boulder, Colorado
- Tory Miller, L’Etoile, Madison, Wisconsin (JBF Award winner)
- Naomi Pomeroy, Beast, Portland, Oregon
- Hari Pulapaka, Cress Restaurant, DeLand, Florida
- Bruce Sherman, North Pond Restaurant, Chicago
- Levon Wallace, Proof on Main, Louisville, Kentucky
July 2012: Walland, Tennessee
The first Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change was held in the summer of 2012 at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. Support was provided by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Participating chefs at the July 2012 Chefs Boot Camp included:
- Hugh Acheson, Five & Ten, Athens
- Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern, NYC
- Jeremy Barlow, Tayst, Nashville, TN
- Jeremy Bearman, Rouge Tomate, NYC
- Sean Brock, McCrady’s, Charleston, SC
- Josh Feathers and Joseph Lenn, Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN
- Colby Garrelts, Bluestem, Kansas City, MO
- Rock Harper, DC Central Kitchen, Washington, D.C.
- Maria Hines, Tilth Restaurant and Golden Beatle Restaurant & Bar, Seattle
- Mike Isabella, Graffiato, Washington, D.C.
- Ed Kenney, Town, Honolulu
- Andrea Reusing, Lantern Restaurant, Chapel Hill, NC
- Sam Talbot, AOL’s GMC “Trade Secrets,” NYC
- Cathy Whims, Nostrana, Portland, OR
- Alex Young, Zingerman’s Roadhouse, Ann Arbor, MI
This program is conducted under the direction of Michel Nischan, chef of the Dressing Room and co-founder of Wholesome Wave, and James Beard Foundation trustee Eric Kessler, founder of Arabella Advisors.
For information about supporting Chefs Boot Camp, please contact Kris Moon, JBF's director of charitable giving and strategic partnerships, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 212.627.5252.