In 1970, in the midst of the Cold War, American statesman and diplomat Henry Kissinger famously remarked that “[when you] control food, you control the people.“ Even though Kissinger was referring to the management of global food supplies, his statement holds true also in the case of person-to-person interactions. Sharing a meal can help people transcend boundaries in a way that nothing else can. At the same time, as an important marker of cultural identity, food can become a driver of conflicts, too. In this salon, we embarked on a culinary journey into the politics of food. Our goal was to get closer to understanding how what we put in our plates functions as a tool of soft power.
Some of the questions we strived to answer: What is the nexus between food and politics? Is the kitchen the new political forum? How does our culinary past reflect our values, culture and set of beliefs? In which ways does world politics infiltrate into the jigsaw of restaurants that inform the culinary landscape of our cities? Is it useful to look at food through the lens of cultural diplomacy? What are the implications of having countries ‘represented’ by their culinary traditions? What are the limits of gastrodiplomacy programs? And how to quantify their success? When does food function as a conduit for lasting changes, building peace and cultural awareness? When, instead, does it become a terrain of conflict and confrontation? Where shall we draw the line between the protection of a country’s culinary heritage and gastro-nationalism? And when spreading culinary traditions become gastro-propaganda? Which state and non-state actors are emerging as champions of this type of diplomacy? And how can we, as citizens, contribute to make gastrodiplomacy an effective tool of conflict resolution?
This salon took place on September 11th, 2018 and was dedicated to Anthony Bourdain.
Johanna Mendelson Forman is Adjunct Professor at the American University’s School of International Service where she teaches Conflict Cuisine: An Introduction to War and Peace Around the Dinner Table, a course that encourages new ways of looking at diplomacy by highlighting the role of food in driving conflict and connecting people and communities. She has written extensively about food and conflict, and topics related to Latin America. Her work has been published in a wide-range of publications including, the Miami Herald, Washington Post, Americas Quarterly, The Globalist, and World Politics Review. Previously, Johanna served as the Director of Peace, Security, and Human Rights at the UN Foundation, and as a Senior Advisor to the UN Mission in Haiti.
Bill Yosses is an American chef of international renown. He held the prestigious title of the White House Executive Pastry Chef from 2007 to 2014. In those years, Bill got first-hand experience of culinary diplomacy representing the US State Department as part of their Culinary Diplomacy Corps. As pastry chef of the White House, he was also closely involved with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative with the goal of reducing childhood health problems related to diet and conducted bi-weekly tours of the White House vegetable garden for school groups.
Peter J. Kim is Executive Director at Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD), the world’s first large-scale food museum. Peter began working on launching MOFAD in 2011. Since then, he has overseen all aspects of the project’s development, including the opening of the museum’s first brick-and-mortar space in October 2015. He and MOFAD have been featured in The New York Times, New Yorker, NPR, and Wall Street Journal, and he has spoken widely about the museum’s dynamic approach. He has worked as a hunger policy advocate, public health educator, and international litigator, and he founded and directed L'Art de Vivre, an arts education nonprofit in Cameroon.
Jon Gray is co-founder of Ghetto Gastro, a culinary collective and cultural movement that operates at the intersection of food, design and community empowerment. Ghetto Gastro was formed in 2012 and has since then used food to spark larger conversations around inclusion, race, and economic empowerment, with the ultimate goal of establishing the Bronx as a culinary destination.
LinYee Yuan is founder and editor of MOLD, an editorial platform about designing the future of food. LinYee was previously the entrepreneur in residence for QZ.com and an editor for Core77, T: The New York Times Style Magazine and Theme Magazine. She has written about design and art for Food52, Design Observer, Cool Hunting, Elle Decor and Wilder Quarterly. LinYee also contributed the foreword to Food Futures: Sensory Explorations in Food Design and Cooking Up Trouble.
Paul Rockower is the Executive Director of Levantine Public Diplomacy, an independent public diplomacy organization. Paul has over ten years experience in the field of communications and public diplomacy, with a vast and varied career in both the academic and practitioner domains. A leading expert in the burgeoning field of gastrodiplomacy, he previously served as a Press Officer for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, directing the media and public diplomacy of the Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest. Amongst other roles, he has also been a Visiting Fellow at the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, where he researched Taiwan’s public diplomacy outreach.
Mary Jo Pham is a former U.S. diplomat, who was involved in several successful gastrodiplomacy campaigns. In particular, she has written extensively on South Korean gastrodiplomacy as a case study. She has also handled corporate and policy communications across APAC for 10+ countries. Additionally, she is a two-time winner of U.S. national journalism awards, as well as the recipient of The Franklin Award (2016) and The Glenn Munro Award for Outstanding Potential and Leadership (2013) by the U.S. Department of State.
Dafna Hirsch is a Professor of Sociology at the Open University of Israel. An expert on Jewish society and culture in Mandate Palestine, her research includes aspects of culture from everyday life in addition to cultural theory, food studies, gender and ethnic relations, racism and racial thought, and historical anthropology. Additionally, she is the author of ‘Hummus: The making of an Israeli culinary cult.’
Therese Nelson is the Founder and culinary curator of Black Culinary History. Founded in 2008, Therese created the organization to connect chefs of color, to preserve black heritage throughout the African culinary diaspora, to promote and share the work of her colleagues, and to preserve the legacy being constructed by black chefs for this next generation. Throughout her culinary career, Therese has worked her way through the kitchens of major hotel groups from Hilton and Marriott to Orient Express and Four Seasons. As a recipe consultant for Get Em’ Girl Inc. brands she helped create the cookbooks The Get Em’ Girl’s Guide to the Power of Cuisine and The Get Em Girl’s Guide to the Perfect Get Together.
Jordyn Lexton is the CEO and Founder of Drive Change, a food truck business that would be a platform for a paid fellowships for young adults returning home from jail. Founded in 2014, Drive Change was created in response to the racial and class injustice in the criminal justice system that Jordyn witnessed first hand as an English teacher at Rikers Island High School. Understanding food as a unifier, Jordyn believed that food and food workplaces could connect people and provide pathways to employment.
Julia Turshen is the bestselling author of Now & Again (named the Best Cookbook of 2018 by Amazon and an NPR ‘Great Read’), Feed the Resistance (named the Best Cookbook of 2017 by Eater), and Small Victories (named one of the Best Cookbooks of 2016 by the New York Times and NPR). She also hosts the IACP-nominated podcast called ‘Keep Calm and Cook On.’ In addition to having written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Vogue, and Bon Appétit, amongst others, she sits on the Kitchen Cabinet Advisory Board for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. She is also the founder of Equity At The Table (EATT), an inclusive digital directory of women and non-binary individuals in food.
Hawa Hassan is the Founder and CEO of Basbaas, a unique line of Somali hot sauces and chutneys available in the U.S. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, Hawa escaped the civil war by going with her mother and four siblings to a U.N. refugee camp in Kenya. After a year in the camp, her mother was eventually able to get an apartment and launch a small business. When Hawa turned seven, her mother seized an opportunity to send her to Seattle, Washington, to live with a family friend. It would be fifteen years before they saw each other again. When they eventually reunited, the two rediscovered their shared love of cooking. Basbaas reflects Hawa’s personal passion for her culture and her entrepreneurial streak. And of course, it’s an homage to her mother.
Kerry Brodie is the Founder and Executive Director of Emma’s Torch. Founded in 2016, Emma’s Torch provides refugees with culinary training, ESL classes and interview preparation, setting them up for successful employment in an industry in which their cultural heritage and cuisine can be celebrated. Kerry is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education, where she won the Wusthof Award for Leadership and was named ACCSC Graduate of the Year. She holds a Masters in Government from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelors in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University. She was named one of City & State’s 40 Under 40 in 2018.
EatTogether is a concept developed by President’s Choice® (PC), a Canadian brand which includes a wide range of grocery and household products. Developed in the mid-80s their idea has been to provide unique high quality products to Canadians. President’s Choice® (PC) developed #EatTogether to celebrate joining communities, friends, and families for a simple meal that sparks the values of healthy eating and togetherness.
THE OLDEST DIPLOMATIC TOOL
Laudan, Rachel, Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History, University of California Press (April 2015)
Porter Kirkwood, Kenneth, The diplomat at table: a social and anecdotal history through the looking-glasss, Scarecrow Press (1974)
Schwabe, Alon, and Pascu, Daniel Fernandez, The Empire Remains Shop, Columbia University Press (2018)
Shapiro, Laura. The First Kitchen, The New Yorker (11.22.2010)
Stelzer, Cita, Dinner With Churchill: Policy-Making at the Dinner Table, Pegasus (October 2013)
FOOD AND IDENTITY
Belasco, Warren James, “Identity: Are we what we eat?”, in Food: the key concepts, Bloomsbury (2012)
Ciezaldo, Annia, Eat, Drink, Protest, Foreign Policy (05.25.2011)
Cogan, Marin, American Buffet: What refugee chefs bring to our country, The Washington Post Magazine (12.07.2017)
Freedman, Paul, Ten Restaurants That Changed America, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. (2016)
Harris, Jessica B., My Soul Looks Black: A Memoir, Charles Scribner’s Sons (2017)
Lam, Francis, Edna Lewis and the Black Roots of American Cooking, The New York Times (10.28.2015)
Twitty, Michael W., The Cooking Gene. A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South, Harper Collins Publishers (2017)
BRANDING A NATION
Albright, Mary Beth, Culinary Diplomacy Is On America’s Menu, National Geographic Magazine (04.25.2015)
Mahon, Elaine, ‘Ireland on a Plate’: Curating the 2011 State Banquet for Queen Elizabeth, Journal of Media and Culture, vol. 18, issue 4 (August 2015)
Mintz, Sidney, Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom, Beacon Press (1996)
Pham, Mary Jo, Food as Communication: A Case Study of South Korea’s Gastrodiplomacy, Journal of International Service, vol.22, no 1, pp.1-23 (Spring 2013)
Rockower, Paul, Projecting Taiwan, Issues & Studies, vol.47, no 1, pp.107-152 (March 2011)
Ruddy, Braden, Hearts, Minds, and Stomachs: Gastrodiplomacy and the Potential of National Cuisine in Changing Public Perception of National Image, Public Diplomacy Magazine (03.02.2014)
Singh, Maanvi, Who’s Behind The Latest Ethnic Food Trend? Maybe It’s A Government, National Public Radio - The Salt (04.26.2015)
Wilson, Rachel, Cocina Peruana Para El Mundo: Gastrodiplomacy, the Culinary Nation Brand, and the Context of National Cuisine in Peru, Exchange: The Journal of Public Diplomacy, vol.2, issue 1 (2013)
FOOD AS A SOCIO-POLITICAL BAROMETER
What the World Eats, National Geographic Magazine
Johnson, Geoff, The great nutrient collapse, Politico (09.13.2017)
Latson, Jennifer, The Kitchen Debate: When Khrushchev Said No to Pepsi but Yes to Peace, Time (07.24.2015)
Michel, Charles, The Taste of Cutlery and the Multisensory World of Eating, MOLD Magazine (01.05.18)
Ray, Krishnendu, The Ethnic Restaurateur, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. (2016)
FOOD AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION
Lasky, Julie, Matters of Taste, The New York Times (02.27.2014)
Mendelson Forman, Johanna, Foreign Policy in the Kitchen, E-International Relations (10.05.2016)
Ojong, Vivian Besem, Food as a measure of complete diplomacy: balancing India-Africa partnership through accommodating taste, Nidan: International Journal for Indian Studies, vol. 25, issue 1, pp.34-50 (January 2013)
Rockower, Paul, Recipes for gastrodiplomacy, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy (11.14.2012)
Sciolino, Elaine, French Politics Served in a Pita, The New York Times (12.22.2014)
FEEDING THE RESISTANCE
Brooks, Courtney, The Diplomacy of Food: a Q&A with Ben Rhodes, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (04.04.2017)
Chapple-Sokol, Sam, War and Peas: Culinary Conflict Resolution as Citizen Diplomacy, Public Diplomacy Magazine (03.02.2014)
Poon, Linda, Gastrodiplomacy: Cooking Up A Tasty Lesson On War And Peace, National Public Radio - The Salt (04.03.2014)
Turshen, Julia, Feed the Resistance: Recipes + Ideas for Getting Involved, Chronicle Books (2017)
A taste of conflict: The politics of food in Jerusalem, Al Jazeera - 101 East (02.02.2016)
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, CNN - Roads & Kingdoms
Who Invented Chai? Well, It’s Complicated, AJ+ (05.20.2018)
Svatek, Peter, Theater of Life (2016)