When an invitation to attend an address by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House came my way, how could I refuse, especially when the event was to launch the Chefs Move to Schools initiative, which teaches children about nutrition and making balanced and healthy food choices?
When Phil Gutensohn (Assistant Director of Career Services & Alumni Affairs) and I showed up for the Share our Strength breakfast at the JW Marriot Washington, D.C., the ballroom was filled to capacity with some 700 chefs from across the country, including celebrity chefs José Andrés, Marcus Samuelsson, and Art Smith. We all gathered to hear White House Chef Sam Kass, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Chef Bill Telepan, and several other prominent chefs working on school nutrition programs discuss their successes.
After breakfast, we headed to the South Lawn where we were given access to peruse the Chef’s garden, which was then followed by Michelle Obama’s address, where she spoke about child nutrition statistics across the country, how The White House would lead the program, and how us culinary professionals could make a difference. More than 700 chef’s shoulder to shoulder dressed in whites braced the ninety-five degree heat to hear the address. Other notable attendees included Daniel Boulud, Rachael Ray, Tom Colicchio, Cat Cora, and Lidia Bastianich.
We all left The White House with a big task at hand, one that would change the way children in America eat: to create a healthier, better educated youth population. And with the support of none other than the White House, I believe we can and will make a difference.
Tony Garcia, Director of Business Development at The International Culinary Center, is active in several culinary community initiatives. As a board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF), Tony chairs the New York Days of Taste program, which teaches children about the importance of fresh food by helping them understand locally grown ingredients and teaching them basic nutrition principles.