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Dear World at JBF Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change

Alison Tozzi Liu

March 30, 2015

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There was no shortage of enlightening moments at the sixth JBF Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change this month, but a visit from Robert X. Fogarty and Jonah Evans at the end of a long day was completely invigorating.

Fogarty and Evans introduced us to Dear World, a photography project that started in 2009 when Fogarty began documenting New Orleans residents’ love letters to their city. Since then, Dear World has told the stories of survivors of the Boston marathon bombing and Syrian refugees, and has featured recognizable people like Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, Susan Sarandon, and the late Stuart Scott.

The chefs participating in Boot Camp were invited to create a message about something they care about—and to become a part of the ever-growing, inspirational, and often poignant Dear World gallery. Here are some of the images from that evening, and the stories behind what they wrote.

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(Image above)

"As someone who suffered from an "incurable" autoimmune disease and overcame it and reclaimed my health through good, real, honest food, I've come to KNOW first hand that real food heals."

Seamus Mullen, NYC @SeamusMullen 

"Hunger is one of the most devastating, widespread epidemics in the world, affecting nearly 900 million people, many of them children. There is no place for hunger in our world, it is a travesty that must be eradicated."

Asha Gomez, Atlanta @AshaGomez 

“As an educator surrounded by future chefs all there with dreams of becoming great chefs and contributing members of our industry, it is important to me that I instill these words in them everyday. As a young culinarian I was told those same words by two special women in my life, my mother and grandmother. During Boot Camp it became more relevant to me as I discussed my passion for my students—and I realized that I have more power than I know in helping them achieve their dreams.”

Kevin Mitchell, Charleston, SC @cheffy611 

“I created the #dessertworthy campaign because I got tired of people asking me why I’m not fat. You don’t ask a bartender why he isn’t an alcoholic, or a pharmacist why she’s not a drug addict. It’s to remind people that sugar is fine in moderation—and to avoid the hidden sugar in foods like processed foods. I firmly believe that if you always say no and tell people they can never have something, they want it more. So we should be returning sugar to the place it belongs—the occasional treat. And ask ourselves before we eat that chocolate cake, ‘Is it #dessertworthy?’” 

JBF Award Winner Emily Luchetti, San Francisco @EmilyLuchetti 

“The importance of taking action regardless of fear of defeat. Just start. Move forward.”

 Christian Thornton, Martha’s Vineyard, MA @AtriaMV 

“The literal meaning of aloha is breath of life. Aloha is a way of living and treating each other with love and respect. Its deeper meaning starts by teaching ourselves to love our own beings and then spread the love to others. Aloha is sending and receiving positive energy. Aloha is living in harmony. I have been blessed in my life to have received this great mana and aloha from others, hence my desire to share and pass it on. So #LiveGiveAloha." 

Lee Anne Wong, Honolulu @LeeAnneWong 

“May your heart be full, may your hands be full, may your spirit be full, and may your belly be full of delicious, nutritious food. To the hungry and the overfed; to those in need and those that have more than they need, may the hunger in your body, mind, and soul be full of purpose, full of passion, full of poise, and full of people you love to break bread with.”

Reneé Loux, Los Angeles @ReneeLoux 

“If we want to understand something, we need to ask about the reasons or reasoning behind it. Without understanding, we cannot create change.”

Michael Leviton, Boston @LumiereNewton 

“Childhood obesity is a serious issue. It often comes down to education. Knowing that you need a diet of real, unprocessed food to keep your body healthy. #IHeartWITS [Wellness in the Schools] celebrates 10 years of doing just that—helping to teach kids about nutrition and how to cook so that they get excited and take these recipes home to share with their families. Wellness in the Schools is now in over 60 New York schools, has worked with the Department of Agriculture in Florida and rural Kentucky, and has reached over 100,000 kids to date!”

Bill Telepan, NYC @BillTelepan 

"This speaks to my perspective of pure selflessness, like a mother nurturing a child. Chefs helping to feed those who are hungry, caring for the quality of the food our children consume, or as voices in unison saying give, give more, give better. Giving good food, and caring that it is real food, is an act of love."
Victor Albisu, Washington, D.C. @VictorAlbisu 

"I believe that food, as a single subject, has more impact on human, environmental, economic, and societal health than any other. I believe that if we can change our food system, we can heal the world. Therefore, food equals change!"
Michel Nischan, Bridgeport, CT, @MichelNischan 

See the complete photo album of Dear World’s work with our Boot Camp chefs here.

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