"The Carnegie Hall for Chefs"

Have you ever stayed for After school or an Add-in and been met with the smells of wood smoke? Have you ever noticed the building and courtyard on the other side of the fence as you walk down the hall next to the river yard? Have you ever heard people talking there? It is unfamiliar to many in the C&C community, and it is known as the James Beard House.

Along with the James Beard Foundation, the house was opened in 1985 by two chefs: Peter Kump and Julia Child. Kump was the founder of a cooking school based in New York and was a prominent figure in the culinary arts during the mid 20th century. Julia Child is, for many Americans, “the ambassador of French Cuisine.” She released many French cookbooks in her time and was one of the most famous television personalities. She starred in multiple cooking shows, most notably The French Chef.

But then who is James Beard? Like Child, Beard was a cook, cookbook writer, and television personality. He hosted the first cooking show ever to be on television, I Love To Eat, from 1946 until 1947. He taught many people how to cook to the best of their abilities and was beloved across America. When he died in 1985, the foundation was born.

The James Beard Foundation is a New York City-based national non-profit culinary arts organization. It was created to honor not only James Beard’s legacy, but also to celebrate the evolution of American Cuisine, and it has done precisely that. Almost everyday chefs from around the country come to celebrate their success by serving up food to whoever is willing to pay for the grand experience. While the dining experience is pricey, it is worth it. Not only is the food made by highly trained cooks, but it is a great way to celebrate anything or anyone -- the chef, a raise, even an engagement. The foundation is perhaps best known for its award. “Having a James Beard award becomes a kind of calling card, a mark of distinction,” said Izabela Wojcik, director of house programming for the James Beard Foundation.

Also, a lot of this money from the Beard house is going into culinary scholarships for those who can’t afford the hefty prices of schools like ICE (Institute of Culinary Education) and CIA (Culinary Institute of America).

The foundation is not only to appreciate American Cuisine, it works on food-related global issues. “The biggest growing piece, and this is the piece that is expanding our mission and expanding our reach as a foundation, is food advocacy,” said Wojcik. One of those issues that the foundation has been invested in for a long time is food waste. “There’s huge critical issues that are facing chefs, whether it’s I need to compost, I need to address food waste, feeding the hungry, feeding the homeless, targeting issues that are particular to your city … It’s those kinds of issues that are much bigger for our planet than just how do I run my little diner on the corner.”

According to the Washington Post, “The James Beard Foundation, under new chief executive Clare Reichenbach, wants to use its national platform to raise awareness and help professional chefs and home cooks alike combat a complex production, supply and consumer problem that annually results in the waste of about a third of all the food grown in the world.” In other words, the foundation is using its power as a major benefactor to the culinary arts to influence chefs and home cooks and create awareness about lowering the amount of food we waste everyday. Also according to the article in the Washington Post, “Theoretically, the foundation notes, if Americans eliminated food waste one day a week for an entire year, the effort would save 7.8 million tons of food, enough to provide 13 billion meals for the hungry.” This is showing us the supposed results if we prevented food waste 1 day a week, and the results are astounding. If we could prevent food waste for even another day, double the amount of food saved, double the meals, which would find a home in the stomachs of the nearly 600,000 homeless adults we have in America, triple that for children and teens. This is a detrimental issue that our neighbors are trying to figure out.

It is inspiring to have a place like the James Beard House next to the school. The only issue with it is when students at C&C are starving and the house´s barbecue smells waft in, into your nose. But what’s really important is that the foundation is tackling real problems like food waste globally. “For the James Beard Foundation to stay relevant and to stay on topic with what people are talking about, it’s going deeper into the politics of the plate,” said Wojcik.

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