sexta-feira, 27 de fevereiro de 2009

Chef to Obamas: Way to Go!

By Marian Burros

In November Alice Waters sent a letter to the President-Elect and Mrs. Obama, offering her services and those of Ruth Reichl, editor-in-chief of Gourmet and Danny Meyer, owner of several highly regarded restaurants in New York, to become their kitchen cabinet and help them select a new White House chef who would embrace “environmentalism, health and conservation.”

Some people in the food community thought it was brilliant; others thought it was cheeky.

Fast forward to February.

Michelle Obama is way ahead of the would-be advisers. Without hiring a new executive chef or taking up Ms. Waters on her offer, the Obamas have made the local/sustainable food community so happy that the Chefs Collaborative is letting them know how much they approve of their early efforts to help Americans change the way they eat.

So far 300 members of the 3,000 member organization, a group committed to sourcing and cooking with local and sustainable ingredients, have signed a congratulatory letter to the President and First Lady.

Since the letter is not going to be delivered until Earth Day, April 22, the organization will have plenty of time to gather more signatories, who already include the usual suspects: Dan Barber (Blue Hill), Peter Hoffman (Savoy), Suzanne Goin (Lucques) and Rick Bayless (Tompolobampo, a favorite of the Obamas).

“The purpose of our letter is to applaud what the Obamas have begun to do, encourage them to keep going, and offer our help, expertise and full support,” said Bruce Sherman, chef-owner of North Pond Restaurant in Chicago and chair of the collaborative.

When the letter was first drafted in December, 2008, the chefs could only hope the Obamas were on the same wave length.

Now that Michelle Obama has spoken out on a couple of occasions, including a press conference in the White House kitchen before the Administration’s first official dinner they know she is on their side.

She put in a pitch for the superior flavor of local and sustainable food and for healthy eating, a recurring theme for her during the campaign and since she has come to Washington.

Sam Kass, the chef who cooked local, sustainable and healthy food for the family in Chicago is now an assistant chef in the White House kitchen. And both the executive chef Cristeta Comerford and the pastry chef Bill Yosses, well known to many New Yorkers who enjoyed his work at Bouley, made it clear they, too, cared about sourcing ingredients locally and regionally.

Mrs. Obama had high praise for the chef’s healthy creations, remaking on the creamless “creamed” spinach on the menu that evening and she spoke glowingly of several “creamed” soups Chef Comerford had made that were also without cream.

“We’re thrilled with the chefs the Obamas have working with them in the White House,”said Melissa Kogut, executive director of the collaborative. “We just want to say ‘yea’ and ‘keep up the good work.’”

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