The James Beard Foundation (JBF) has long been a name that every food enthusiast recognizes as the biggest culinary organization. While JBF is based in New York City, as of 2015, the Awards are being held in Chicago (yes!). Just this past weekend the 2016 Awards were held. Needless to say, the foodie community was buzzing with excitement over special events, cheering for our chefs and restaurants nominated, and also proud to host the nation’s best.

As JBF has evolved over the years, and as the food industry has changed, the organization has not only kept up but is at the forefront of addressing important issues. As the organization enters its 30th year, it proudly announced the launch of the JBF IMPACT PROGRAMS, to focus on the sustainable food system through education, advocacy and thought leadership. Exciting news? Absolutely!

Don’t underestimate the power that you have.

– Emily Luchetti

On Monday morning, I was invited to join a Breakfast Briefing on the JBF Impact Programs, and was thrilled to join a room full of those passionate about the new program. Chefs from Chicago, and those visiting/nominated for the Awards from other cities, made their way to The Kitchen to learn more from members of the James Beard Foundation.

After socializing over much-needed cups of coffee, we enjoyed a few breakfast dishes and made our way into the back section of the restaurant for the briefing presentation.

Photo by Allison Tozzi Liu (Editorial Director, JBF)
Photo by Allison Tozzi Liu (Editorial Director, JBF)

Kimbal Musk, chef & co-founder of The Kitchen, welcomed everyone and spoke briefly about how the Learning Gardens program he initiated has become the city’s program! I loved that, and definitely plan on learning more about it!

The JBF team members then walked us through the inspirations behind the program, the details about it, and the action items we could take from it. Some highlights:

  • The Chef’s Boot Camp for Policy & Change (15 chefs invited, held 3-4x per year); 700 chefs currently applied! – Kris Moon (VP of JBF)
  • There are many levels of getting engaged: lobbying, programs in the community, programs in restaurants – Emily Luchetti (Chairperson)
  • 4 issues of focus – Katherine Miller (Sr Director of Food Policy Advocacy)
    • Child Nutrition Reauthorization  (CNR)
    • Reducing food waste in restaurants by 30%
    • Helping chefs have access to sustainable ingredients
    • Helping consumers have access to sustainable ingredients

Chefs in the room were invited to write down their issues/topics of concern on an index card that the JBF Impact team would review and discuss further. It was a great idea as there were probably about 40 in the room, and not everyone could participate during the later Q&A portion.

Chef Steven Satterfield (Miller Union, Atlanta) chatted about some of the changes he’s implemented in his restaurant, the composting program they have, and how they are repurposing scraps into gorgeous new dishes. For example, kale french toast with chicken liver mousse and apple jelly. Sounds like something you’d love to try right? It’s a $13 app, based on scraps, that diners love!

So what does ‘sustainable’ mean anymore? It seems to be a word that’s loosely thrown around these days… but the team at JBF Impact Programs takes it seriously. It was so insightful to hear about these changes, and about the inspirations and plans from these passionate leaders and chefs in the room.

What does that mean for me? For you? It can only motivate us to learn more and to be more engaged in our own kitchens and communities. We can make whatever changes, small as they may be, to make a difference in the way we experience food.

{Special thank you to The Rosen Group PR Team (especially Diane) for the invitation and introductions to those in attendance during the briefing.}

Learn more: http://www.jamesbeard.org/impact

Official Press Release can be found HERE

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