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18 Things Overheard at the 8th JBF Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change

Alison Tozzi Liu

September 25, 2015

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Last week a group of talented and dedicated chefs arrived at Vermont’s Shelburne Farms for the 8th JBF Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change. It was an inspiring 36 hours of policy talk, farm tours, harvesting, cooking, and more policy talk. Here are some of the most memorable quotes. 

On why chefs have the power to make meaningful change in the food system:

“Being a chef is not just putting fish in a pan. It’s so much more.”
Tim Byres, Dallas  

“There’s really something in the power of chefs' voices to make meaningful change in the food system. Change happens at the table, in the community, and at the policy level.”
Katherine Miller, Chefs Action Network

“Sometimes we forget—we have deliciousness. That's a very powerful lure.”
Bill Yosses, NYC

“Sometimes we as chefs get lost in the micro-problems (like the dish machine being broken again!) and forget what the big picture is. I have a voice—which is beyond me screaming in the kitchen—and it is my responsibility to use that voice.” 
Maneet Chauhan, Nashville

“So many of the world’s problems can be solved through food.”
David Hugo, Shelburne, VT

“I’ve been at this for 35 years. I’ve seen more change in the past 5 to 8 years than we thought we’d see in our lifetime. The moment is here.”
Michel Nischan, Wholesome Wave 

Tips for using their influence to make improvements in food policy:

“Sometimes you feel like you’re talking to the wrong person, but if that person is interested and passionate about what you’re talking about, sometimes that’s better than getting to the ‘right’ person and them just having that listening face on.”
Ann Cooper, Boulder, CO

“Commercial demand equals political constituency. The same people who buy shit are the same people who vote.”
Michel Nischan, Wholesome Wave

On the power of collaboration: 

“We are a coalition, but it definitely feels like a family of like-minded, like-hearted people. We have this platform and we have this burden and this beautiful responsibility to use this platform.”
Maxime Bilet, Seattle  

“By nature, chefs are fiercely independent, but we need to unify to get things done.”
Piper Davis, Portland, OR

“I’m part of the campaign for school breakfast and summer meals in NYC. I feel good about doing that, but now the resources are just unlimited with all the people in this room. ”
JJ Johnson, NYC  

“One of the most empowering things has been feeling the ease of collaboration. I look forward to doing that more.” 
Annie Pettry, Louisville, KY  

“The biggest thing I get out of spending time like this is getting to know all of you [chefs] and knowing that we’re all allies. I forgot that I was going to come here and have 15 new friends. I’m really proud to be here with a lot of young chefs with passion, and a lot of old chefs with passion.”
Mary Sue Milliken, Los Angeles 

“This is heavy stuff. This is important work. We’re able to accomplish so much more when we can come together. It’s so much more resonant and powerful that way.”
Derek Wagner, Providence, RI  

“We all came together. It was a crazy dance. But a happy dance. I’ve admired a lot of you as chefs. I didn’t know you were also heroes. ”
Mario Pagán, Puerto Rico  

On what’s next:

“I spend a lot of time thinking about how to change our culture around food. People are hungry. The oceans are dying. My dad used to say that the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Now I have the tools to take the first bite.”
Paul Fehribach, Chicago 

“My mind is swelling. I want to go home and share what we’ve done here with my staff, the guests, and the community.”
Charleen Badman, Scottsdale, AZ  

“This is just the beginning. The most important thing you [chefs] can do now is to use this training to speak up on the issues you care deeply about. We have witnessed the power of your colleagues who came through this program before you. We are excited to support you as you work to improve our country’s food system."
Kris Moon, JBF's senior director of strategy and development, NYC 

Find out more about the JBF Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change here.

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Alison Tozzi Liu is editorial director at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.