On the Menu: The Fifth Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change
Anna MowryAnna Mowry
September 05, 2014
At JBF's upcoming Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change, taking place September 7 to 9 at the 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville, Arkansas, there will be a few stock chef activities, like a collaborative dinner prepared at the hotel's restaurant, as well as an introduction to a local purveyor. In Bentonville, chefs will spend an afternoon at Ewe Bet Farms, home to pasture-raised and grass-fed lambs.
Primarily, though, the three-day session will provide chefs with a unique opportunity to grow and refine their skills in the policy and advocacy arenas. The 15 participants (see the complete list here) have a schedule of presentations, workshops, and training sessions based on an overall theme of food access and affordability. Boot Camp speakers include Katherine Miller, founder of the Chef Action Network, JBF's co-partner in conducting this program, and Rashid Nuri, who in 2006 started Truly Living Well, an Atlanta-based sustainable farm and educational center that has been recognized as a leader in natural urban agriculture. There's even an optional assignment before the gathering begins: reading a copy of Prince Charles's keynote speech at the 2011 Future of Food conference, titled On the Future of Food, now considered an essential work on food-system crises.
The fifth gathering of its kind, next week's Boot Camp seeks to build a politically engaged network of chefs who are equipped to move policy needles, raise awareness of their chosen causes, and build community at local and global levels. "After Boot Camp, my biggest memory was hearing the speakers say that the power that chefs have locally and in our communities is growing exponentially, and that chefs don't always take advantage of it," says JBF Award–winning chef Tory Miller, who went on to establish the Madison Area Chefs Network after attending a Boot Camp installment in Louisville last year. "Chefs need to understand their status and their influence."
To learn more about next week's Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change and the program's history, visit jamesbeard.com/bootcamp. You'll find the full list of participating chefs, more details about the agenda, snapshots of earlier gatherings, and program applications, which are open to professional chefs and accepted on a rolling basis. You can also get a glimpse of next week's activities by following #chefslead on Twitter and Instagram.
Anna Mowry is senior editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.