Move over, all you Hillary Clinton and
"Food matters. Food matters to everyone,'' U.S. Chief of Protocol Capricia Penavic Marshall told a crowd of chefs, diplomats, government officials, food journalists and food industry representatives gathered Sept. 7 for the formal kick-off of the program in the tony Diplomatic Reception Rooms on the eighth floor of the State Department.
It was an event where a perfect head of leaf lettuce used as a centerpiece could shyly preen amid marbleized columns and a gallery's worth of paintings by the likes of Gilbert Stuart, Benjamin West and Charles Willson Peale and still not look out of place. Guests mingled among some of the finest art, furnishings and decorative items from the early days of the Republic as they sampled some of the best food and drink of today: Artisan cheeses and charcuterie; hot chocolate made in a style the Founding Fathers( and mothers) would have recognized; craft beers and boutique wines; tastings of dishes made by some of the chefs who were involved in the partnership program.
The program, developed in partnership with the culinary-focused James Beard Foundation, seeks to "incorporate food, hospitality and the dining experience" into the nation's diplomatic strategy around the globe. Guests and chefs alike talked about what role food could play.
“I want to assist in bridging the gaps between cultures,’’ said Bayless, who wondered aloud about how much the
The restaurateur behind
Now, Bayless is slated to receive the highest honor awarded to foreigners by the Mexican government, the Order of the Aztec Eagle, on Sept. 19 in Washington. The order is being given, Bayless said, for work contributing to the understanding of Mexican food outside the country.
Smith, owner of Chicago's Table Fifty-Two does know his assignment. He'll be creating a meal for the partnership during a visit to Israel planned for the spring.
"Food is sacred," said Smith, who stood near the center of the huge Benjamin Franklin Room dishing up plates of roasted faro salad and smoked Carolina swordfish. Food, he added, transcends gender, religion and politics.
"Good food is something we all can appreciate,'' said Smith, who came to national prominence as chef to Oprah Winfrey.
Echoing Smith’s sentiments was Chicagoan Sam Kass, the
Kass stood on the podium in a navy blue chef’s jacket emblazoned with the State Department seal. He, Bayless and Tony Mantuano of