By Becky Garrison, Epicure & Culture Contributor
While most participants at Feast Portland appear hyper-focused on the gourmet delights from the Pacific Northwest’s top chefs and other select offerings from around the United States, my eyes keep getting drawn to the Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon booth. Was this just another high end food fest or did Feast actually work to help end world hunger?
1. A Feast To End Hunger (Portland, Oregon)
To help me answer this question, I chatted with Carlo Lamagna, Head Chef of Portland-based Clyde Common, and one of the many chefs participating in this annual event. He informed me that the biggest draw for him to participate in Feast was their participation with Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon at the grassroots level, as well as working with his fellow chef colleagues for a good cause.
“They did a program with the breakfast program at schools that I participated in along with two other chefs. We did a little Iron Chef mystery basket by making breakfast using items they had on hand at the schools.”
This project enabled the kids and staff to see what could be created on a professional level using very common ingredients.Check out this #inspiring #foodfest that works to end world hunger! #endhunger Click To Tweet
Lamanga developed his interest in healthy school menus when he compared the unhealthy school lunches from his childhood in Detroit with the food he experienced when he moved to the Philippines. “Very rarely did we have the luxury of opening up a bag of something and calling it a meal. Preparing a meal from scratch was the coolest thing.”
In addition to his work with Hunger Free Oregon, as head chef at Clyde Common Lamanga has established relationships with farmers who provide him with locally sourced items. Additionally, they donate any excess food they can’t use to the Oregon Food Bank.
2. Farm To Table With Orchard Kitchen (Whidbey Island, Washington)
Following my conversation with Lamagna, I connected with other chefs from around the United States to explore what they’re doing to help eradicate hunger in the United States. On Whidbey Island, Vincent Nattress, Chef & Owner of Orchard Kitchen, hosts dinners using products grown on his farm as a way to build community and create awareness around healthy sustainable food practices. He serves on the board with the Good Cheer Bank & Thrift, located directly across the street from their farm.
Additionally, this organization operates a model grocery store that encourages their clientele to make good choices by buying fresh food. While people may associate Whidbey Island as being a rural resort paradise, one in five people living in South Whidbey use the food bank at some point during the year.
3. Serving The Homeless In Style (NYC)
As Director of Food Services for Lower Manhattan’s Bowery Mission, Gretchen Roth uses her skills as a self-taught chef working in restaurants since she was a teen to reach the homeless on a deeper level. “It’s been a brand new experience learning how to cook healthy well-balanced food in large quantities when I’m working with donated food recovered by City Harvest or donated via the food bank and stores such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.”
Roth oversees the kitchen in five locations in New York City catering to men, women and children, as well as a camp in the Poconos. Foodies may recognize Roth from her appearance on the TV show Chopped. “The appearance on that show was a wonderful way to show a larger audience that we’re not just dumping cans of soup and heating it. Rather, I love to create really high quality food by using local recovered ingredients as much as I can.”
4. Taste Of The NFL (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
One way Justin Aprahamian, James Beard award-winning Chef and Owner of Sanford Restaurant in Milwaukee, works to combat hunger is through his participation in the Taste of the NFL. To date, this organization — now in its 26th season — has raised over $25 million for anti-hunger initiatives. Aprahamian’s team works with the Green Bay Packers when they do activities to support local food banks and the Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee.
5. Helping Hungry Veterans (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
Justin Carlisle combines his military background with his experience as Best Chef Midwest nominee and owner of Ardent to help serve veterans who are homeless and hungry. His father was a Vietnam vet, and he can see his father in the eyes of these men. He donates time, food and gift cards for one to three gala nights per year to raise money for a local Milwaukee group that works with homeless veterans. In addition, he donates time, food, staff and gift cards to several events a year that raise money for Meals on Wheels.
6. Big Burrito Restaurant Group Gives Back (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Bill Fuller’s interest in combating hunger stems from his own childhood. “I grew up quite poor and our household experienced chronic food insecurity and real hunger. As I grew able to, I’ve been committed to give back and help others. I believe not only in feeding the hungry but helping people learn to cook for and feed themselves and their families.”
As Corporate Chef for the Big Burrito Restaurant Group, Fuller participates in a number of initiatives including joining the board of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, teaching about urban agriculture with Grow Pittsburgh and cooking for fundraisers with No Kid Hungry Share Our Strength. On Tuesdays he ventures over to the Barack Obama High School Cooking Club where he teaches cooking to a group of about 25 kids from low income neighborhoods.
Moreover, Fuller works with the Big Burrito Groups’ Benefit Dinner series where one of the 19 restaurants involved in the group creates a tasting menu and donates food, wine and a private dining space for a fundraising dinner. A nonprofit organization sells the tickets and receives the proceeds.
7. Bringing Healthy Food To The Streets (Los Angeles, California)
Born in Seoul, Korea and raised in Los Angeles, California Roy Choi graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and worked at the internationally acclaimed Le Bernardin. His awards include being included named Best New Chef by Food and Wine (2010) and inclusion in the 2016 TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World list. Currently, he is the Co-owner, Co-founder, and Chef of Kogi BBQ, Chego!, A-Frame, Commissary, POT, and LocoL. After reinventing the food-truck concept so these trucks are seen now as hot places to get a meal, he combats food insecurity with LocoL, by bringing healthy food at an affordable price to underserved neighborhoods. As Choi notes, “That’s my family out there hungry all throughout LA and I’m a chef. It’s in my DNA.”From #Wisconsin to #LA, these chefs are using innovative ideas to combat hunger in the US. #7 is so cool! #endhunger Click To Tweet
These chefs represent just a taste of those in the culinary industry who are working to help end world hunger. Check out your local food bank to feast on into initiatives in your area.
What chefs or programs do you love that are working to end world hunger? Please share in the comments below!
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