The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


State Department involves U.S. chefs in diplomatic culinary partnership

The State Department is starting an American Chefs Corps and creating a Diplomatic Culinary Partnership to bring U.S. and foreign chefs together, the agency announced last week.

Chefs from around the country will help prepare meals for foreign leaders and participate in programs with foreign culinary experts visiting the United States and abroad.

The partnership program will encourage foreign chefs to learn about U.S. food and visit U.S. farms. Culinary experts from 25 different countries are visiting the United States this month. Chefs gathered at the State Department's Benjamin Franklin Room last Friday for a ceremony to sign a memorandum of understanding for the new efforts.

“This new initiative will elevate the role of culinary engagement in America’s formal and public diplomacy efforts,” the State Department said in a news release.

“As part of this endeavor, chefs from across the country will serve as resources to the department in preparing meals for foreign leaders, and will participate in public diplomacy programs that engage foreign audiences abroad as well as those visiting the United States.”

Friday’s event included a taped video address from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, as well as remarks by U.S. Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall, Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine, and Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation, which is a partner in the program.

More than 50 prominent chefs and culinary leaders were expected to attend, including Jose Andrés, Rick Bayless, Amanda Freitag, Duff Goldman, Tony Mantuano, Mary Sue Milliken, Rick Moonen, Marc Murphy, Art Smith, Bryan Voltaggio and Cathy Whims.

The foreign culinary experts are visiting under the International Visitor Leadership Program, State’s professional exchange program. The chefs, educators and journalists participating in the “Culinary Diplomacy: Promoting Cultural Understanding Through Food” exchange have come from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Burma, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Namibia, Palestinian Territories, People’s Republic of China, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The participants are meeting with chefs, farmers and culinary experts across the country.

The exchange opened in Washington, where sessions were scheduled on the importance of culinary diplomacy, agriculture in the United States, and the federal system of government. The participants were scheduled to spend a morning volunteering at DC Central Kitchen, as well as attend a culinary event hosted by the Office of the Chief of Protocol.

Participants are traveling to New York to explore the role of urban initiatives for food development and learn how collaboration among chefs, schools, and farms can bring local fresh foods to the city.

Participants are also traveling to San Francisco and Napa Valley, Calif., to view culinary education in the United States and the farm-to-table movement.
Participants will then split off into four groups to study rural farming communities and sustainable farming practices in Freeport or Sterling, Ill., and Grand Island or Omaha, Neb. The delegation will reunite in Des Moines, Iowa, where they will attend the World Food Festival.

The exchange will conclude in New Orleans, where participants will learn about cuisine specialties of the United States, food tourism, industry volunteerism, and culinary youth initiatives.