As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~Joan Gussow

Chefs, I Encourage You to Step out of Your Semifreddo Igloo

Hello Friends! Well, that is hello if there are any of you out there. I realize it’s been a LONG time since I last wrote in the blog. To make the story short, SXSW happened, things in my personal life happened, I ate sandwiches for about a month straight (no cooking) and then I wasn’t really inspired to start writing when I started cooking again. I explained to my mom tonight over dinner that I hadn’t felt the passion in a while to write, but what did make me passionate was all the articles I read daily (for work mainly) and opinions I make from the world around me, primarily focusing on food/health/politics/inequality.

One such article I read today in the NY Times struck a chord in me–“For Them a Great Meal Tops Good Intentions”. Basically the premise of the article is that famous chefs, Thomas Keller and Andoni Luis Aduriz, argue that they don’t have an obligation to the greater human good to promote certain agendas other than pushing the artistic/culinary envelope with a tantalizing meal. And you can bet this didn’t sit well with yours truly. Why? Let me explain–

There is something I coined “The big brother syndrome.” No, not the Orwellian Big Brother, but rather the typical big brother or sister in a family. No first-borns were asked to be first born, they just were. And they certainly didn’t ask to be a role model for their younger sibling(s); it just happened that way. And often times they don’t want to be the role model. But, inherently, they are. That’s just life.

I think this is a common argument made by celebrities, whether they are athletes or actors or chefs.  Many celebrities rationalize their behavior with the same argument that they “didn’t ask to be famous” or “didn’t ask to be a role model.” But no matter if they asked–they are! That is what fame brings you. But with that fame brings you the power to do something positive. And not just positive in the fact that you blow everyone’s starry Michelin eyes off with your “desserts that evoke dustings of pollen or skeins of frogs’ eggs.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I love that people are combining food and artistic expression. Chefs Keller and Arduriz are famous because they make some of the BEST friggin’ food on the planet.

BUT–

 While their restaurants may be accessible only to the world’s 0.1 percent, chefs at top restaurants influence the entire global food community with the way they think, write, tweet and talk about food — not just the way they cook it.

This line of the article hits the nail on the head–

I believe that if you are famous for doing good in a specific vein such as sports or culinary arts or theatre, why not use your fame and power to do true good for the rest of world? After all, none of us lives in a vacuum. And less now than any other time in history. Furthermore, there is a growing division between the haves and the have-nots–especially in this country–we haven’t seen this sort of division since well–since I have been a live. As I write this, HBO debuts it’s Weight of the Nation series telling the obesity epidemic story. Americans are sick. Because of our food.The climate is changing. The world is warming.

And maybe I just don’t get it. Maybe I am so hell-bent on being socially and environmentally conscience that I expect everyone to do so, especially celebrities. But is that so bad? So chefs out there, I challenge you to wander out of your strawberry semifreddo igloo and do good that will reach more of the masses for a better tomorrow.

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2 responses

  1. Salts Kitchen

    Wow Joy, this is amazingly well written. Every sentence has purpose and says something in, quite honestly, a beautiful AND passionate way.

    May 16, 2012 at 4:33 am

  2. linda casnovsky

    Wonderful post Joy! Mom

    May 16, 2012 at 6:17 am

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