Eleven Inspiring Sustainable Chefs

Sam Kass, White House Assistant Chef, poses with Wolf Lake Elementary student chefs who participated in an Orlando Public Schools District Let’s Move -- Chefs Move to Schools event in Orlando. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Each of these 11 chefs is a pioneer in the sustainability movement. Let their food philosophies serve as an inspiration for your own Independence Day festivities!

1.  Chef Dan Barber – Barber is the chef and co-owner of Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Westchester County, New York, and the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, Barber has worked to “create a consciousness around our everyday food choices.” He has worked to educate his patrons about where their food comes from and the good agricultural practices it takes to grow the food he serves.

2.  Chef Jose Garces – In addition to acting as the chef and owner of several Philadelphia-area restaurants, Garces maintains a 40-acre sustainable and organic farm, Luna Farms, which supplies food to his restaurants and serves as a tool for educating area children about sustainable and healthy eating.

3.  Chef Marc Vetri – Vetri is responsible for launching not only some of the highest-regarded restaurants in Philadelphia, including Vetri Ristorante, but also the Vetri Foundation for Children, whose mission it is to educate Philadelphia-area children about the importance of healthy eating through teaching and social interaction. Vetri’s foundation has reformed school lunches in several Philadelphia-area schools. 

4.  Chef Jamie Oliver – As founder of the Jamie Oliver Foundation, Oliver has been a pioneer of the sustainable food movement with a variety of projects. He works toward better school lunch programs, reduction of food waste, increasing the amount of time families spend in the kitchen, and the promotion of eating fresh, wholesome foods.

5.  Chef Barton Seaver – Washington, D.C.-based Seaver has been instrumental in teaching his patrons about the relationship between seafood and sustainability. His focus has centered on the preservation of local and global fish supplies, and issues surrounding over-fished and destructively-fished species. He has partnered with National Geographic to create a sustainable Seafood Decision Guide.

6.  Chef Rick Bayless – Chicago chef Rick Bayless created the Frontera Farmer Foundation, which awards capital development grants to small farms in the Chicago area that are working to promote sustainable practices. 

7.  Chef Alice Waters – Waters founded her restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley in 1971, which focuses on promoting a “good, clean and fair” food economy by using the finest and freshest of organic seasonal ingredients. She also launched The Edible Schoolyard in the Bay area, an initiative that actively engages children in all aspects of the food cycle. The project started as a one-acre garden, and then developed into a kitchen-classroom. It now designs food-based curriculums for multiple schools.

8.  Chef Ann Cooper – Known as the Renegade Lunch Lady, Cooper has worked as an advocate for feeding children better school lunches. She has been successful in bringing fresh, local food into school lunch systems in the Berkeley and Boulder areas, and promotes the return to cooking from scratch in school cafeterias.

9.  Chef Bill Telepan – New York City chef Bill Telepan opened his Upper West Side restaurant in order to showcase seasonal, greenmarket ingredients. Additionally, Chef Telepan works with New York City schools in order to try to reform their cafeterias, and also works with Taste of Greenmarket, an annual event promoting New York farmers and local food purveyors.

10. Chef Sam Kass – The Assistant Chef at the White House and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives, Chef Kass has been instrumental in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to help stop childhood obesity. He has also worked to create and maintain the lush White House vegetable garden and beehives, which have fed the First Family, White House staff and guests, as well as provided donations to the local food shelters.

11. Chef José Andrés – Andrés is chef at Jaleo in Washington, D.C. and founder of ThinkFoodGroup, which oversees all of his projects, including cookbooks, TV shows, consulting, and non-profits. Andrés is a contributing voice in the discussions surrounding how food can impact the world. He is a speaker this year at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Conference, and has collaborated on food security projects in developing countries such as Haiti.

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