From Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden to the recent release of her husband’s home-brew recipe, it’s clear that food has become a major player in the capital. And in September, food spread from the White House to the State Department, where it became a diplomatic instrument under a new initiative known as the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership. The program, which was developed in a partnership with JBF, created the American Chef Corps, a group of chefs who will act as food-focused statesmen, dispatched around the globe to promote American cuisine and ingredients.
"By showcasing the best of American cuisine and creativity, we can show our guests a bit about ourselves," said United States chief of protocol Capricia Penavic Marshall. "Likewise, by incorporating elements of our visitor's culture, we can demonstrate respect and a desire to connect and engage. The connections formed over a shared meal can develop into some of the strongest bonds."
The Diplomatic Culinary Partnership was officially launched at the U.S. Department of State on Friday, September 7. Prior to this collaboration, the State Department had consulted with JBF in its early searches for chef talent at diplomatic functions. "When Capricia Marshall and her State Department team called me two years ago to tell me about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s passion and belief that better and more effective diplomacy happens over the dining table rather than a conference table, I immediately agreed," said JBF president Susan Ungaro in a speech at the launch. "I also immediately thought about what James Beard so wisely said over thirty years ago: "Food is our common ground."
During the gathering, which was attended by government officials, JBF's top brass, and many of the chefs who belong to the American Chef Corp, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered the below video message. (You can read her full remarks here.)
The Department of State's official press release about the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership can be found here.