Stories / Events, Impact

Mission Aligned: Our Taste America Culinary Lab Series

Emily Rothkrug

August 19, 2019


Bibimbap Esther Choi photo by Clay Williams
Waste Not bibimbap by Esther Choi at our Taste America kick-off party (Photo: Clay Willliams)

James Beard Foundation Impact programs manager Emily Rothkrug outlines how we're integrating culinary education into our national dining series with chef-lead culinary labs this fall.


This summer, the James Beard Foundation launched our year-long, national event series, Taste America presented by Capital One®. Taste America is our way of bringing the experience of the historic James Beard House to different cities across the country. Traditionally a platform to showcase talented chefs, the program is also a way for us to connect with guests on how our we live our good food for good™ values, and help to bring them to life for audiences from New York to Los Angeles.

In most of the Taste America cities, such as Nashville, Chicago, Atlanta, and Boston, members of our Beard Foundation team will collaborate with local culinary schools to host “culinary labs”—live demonstrations focused on issue areas like sustainable seafood, food waste, women’s leadership, advocacy, and community. In each participating city, chefs like Duskie Estes and JBF Award winners Andrea Reusing and Kwame Onwuachi will cook up dishes, teach new techniques and highlight how we can all work together to make our world more sustainable, accessible, and delicious for all.

Up first, we’ll be tackling whole-animal butchery in Portland, sustainable seafood education in Seattle, and reducing food waste in Philadelphia.

By hosting these demonstrations at culinary schools, the Beard Foundation is reaffirming our commitment to culinary education and all those who make it possible. In the last year, we’ve hosted labs and demonstrations on food waste for instructors throughout the country, and most recently, we appointed chef Jennifer Hill Booker as our James Beard Foundation Impact Fellow.

In her role as the Impact Fellow, chef Booker will use her experience as a teacher and a chef to help us to bridge the gap between culinary education and the hospitality industry. She will act as a Beard Foundation representative on panels and at conferences, all while advising and consulting how we can best engage the culinary education community.

Culinary educators have the ability to influence the future of the food world, and their potential impact is significant. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that jobs for chefs and head cooks will grow at a rate of 10 percent between now and 2026, which is faster than the national average for other industries.

By instilling a sense of leadership, sustainability, and advocacy in culinary students before they enter the hospitality industry, we can create a culture in which these values are the rule, not the exception. We are excited to bring students together through our Culinary Lab series, alongside Taste America.

Learn more about Taste America and get tickets here.


Emily Rothkrug is Impact Programs manager at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.