Our e-newsletter highlights the activities of chefs in their local community and important issues. Our next update is scheduled for September 2014. Here are few updates from the first part of 2014: 

Chef Policy Corps Continues to Grow

The fourth James Beard Foundation’s Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change took place in Pescadero, California, in April. Seafood experts including Kate Wing (formerly of the Moore Foundation) and Chef-Advocate Barton Seaver briefed the 14 nationally recognized chefs on ways to influence policy, change business practices, and demand more information on sustainable seafood. Among the highlights: discussing ways to tackle public perception of “endless” shrimp and other seafood choices; how to build their own campaigns using the A is for Advocacy framework; and reviewing the challenges in taking on policy change. In addition to the support given by the Waitt and Osprey Foundations, representatives from Air Traffic Control, the Campbell and Packard Foundations, and other entrepreneurs and social change agents joined us at the collaborative dinner. Fifty-one chefs have now completed the Boot Camp and are actively working on improving our food system. For a list of chef alumni, visit www.chefactionnetwork.com

Launching Local Chef Action Networks

After looking for ways to bring their culinary community together, several chefs have started local Chef Action Networks and are organizing regular get-togethers to discuss everything from sustainability and GMOs to promoting affordable organics and greater diversity in the kitchen. Chefs Tory Miller in Wisconsin and Ed Kenney in Hawaii have both founded local groups. Read more about Tory here: Tory Miller Brings Together Madison Chefs For Change

Supporting School Nutrition Standards

On May 27, 2014, members of Congress announced their intention to roll back school lunch nutrition standards. Using social media, chefs around the country rallied to keep the standards in place and support healthier school lunches for kids.

In just 24 hours, our chefs reached over 200,000 people with messages encouraging Congress to uphold the standards. Over the course of two weeks, the chefs' reach grew to more than a million people around the country. They also participated in press conferences on Capitol Hill and wrote opinion pieces. Following a “Twitter storm” where chefs contributed hundreds of tweets in just a few short hours, Congressional leaders pulled the devastating amendments from the legislative calendar, at least for now.

Promoting Farm to Stage with Jack Johnson

Singer songwriter Jack Johnson is partnering with CAN to highlight local food movements in several cities on his North American tour. Boot Camp alums Bruce Sherman (Northpond - Chicago), Spike Mendehlsohn (Good Stuff Eatery - Washington, D.C.), Sam Talbot (New York), and Kyle Mendenhall (The Kitchen - Denver) all participated in Farm to Stage events in their respective cities. Next up, Johnson’s tour is headed to Los Angeles, Washington state, and Hawaii. In each city the chefs prepare a meal sourced from local farms, purveyors, and producers for Johnson and VIP fans.

Sustainable Seafood & Trash Fish Dinners Around the Country

A number of chefs, in partnership with Monterey Bay Aquarium and Chefs Collaborative, are hosting dinners focused on trash fish and sustainable seafood. Chefs Tom Colicchio and Sisha Ortúzar hosted the first annual Sustainable Seafood Shindig with author Paul Greenberg and an all-star lineup of chefs including April Bloomfield, Marco Canora, David Chang, Kerry Heffernan, Anita Lo, Rick Moonen, Dave Pasternack, and Bill Telepan. The event, which kicked off Sustainable Seafood Week in NYC, featured conversation with chefs, producers, and industry experts and delicious dishes.

Another approach is introducing chefs and customers to the idea of trash fish, also known as "lesser fish"—savory fish that have traditionally been left off the menu by chefs, discarded by fishermen, and are virtually unknown to the general public. Trash fish dinners have been hosted by Nico Romo (South Carolina), Hari Pulapaka (Central Florida), Colby Garrelts (Missouri), and Michael Leviton (Massachusetts). Upcoming events include a dinner hosted by Chef Mo L'Esperance at Costanoa Resort in Pescadero, California.

 Supporting Local Control of Fisheries

In May a group of chefs including Kathleen Blake (Rusty Spoon - Florida), Hari Pulapaka (Cress - Florida), Tory Miller (L'Etoile - Wisconsin), Nick Wallace (Mississippi), and William Dissen (The Market Place - North Carolina) collaborated with local policy makers, national advocacy groups, and seafood experts to take political action. They worked on stopping a move in Congress to limit fishery managers' catch shares and regional fishery councils’ ability to make the best decision for their fishermen. While catch shares aren't ideal for every area, they can be used to recover fish populations, increase compliance with catch limits, reduce waste, stabilize revenue, and increase business efficiency. For more information about catch shares, visit http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/management/catch_shares/.

 Chefs bring together their community

Chef Hari Pulapaka brought together 30 chefs, advocates, producers, and media from across Central Florida to discuss how to better advocate for their region. The gathering was featured in the Orlando Sentinel. The group has created a Facebook page and is currently using the hashtag #sunshineplate to aggregate its activities and promote each other and policies that they are interested in. The group has pledged to come together every 4-6 weeks and also host an event in 2015.

Chefs are the voice of their guests

Chef Ed Kenney brought together a dozen chefs from across Oahu to hear from the Hawaii Food Policy Council and State Rep. Jessica Wooley. Many of the chefs then participated in the first ever Food Policy Summit at the state capitol. The chefs also created "Love Your Food System" week in February. Participating restaurants will inform guests about five food bills that are currently being introduced and are of importance to the chefs. The guests will check which bills resonate with them and be provided with web links and incentives for participation. Out of this, the chefs will determine which single bill the group will support that session. This way the chefs really are the voice of their guests!

Chefs travel with CARE

Chef Mike Isabella, along with Chefs Spike Mendelsohn and Victor Albisu, traveled to Peru with the global humanitarian organization CARE and visited programs that are fighting to end hunger. Check out their trip on Twitter at @CARE, @VictorAlbisu, @ChefSpike, @MikeIsabellaDC, or using #CAREchefs.

Chefs Participating in Pastured Poultry Week

Chef Sean Brock is one of more than a dozen chefs who participated in Pastured Poultry Week, July 7-14, 2014. The week is a celebration of humane and sustainably produced pasture raised chicken. Last summer, over 70 restaurants participated in Georgia and New York, including esteemed restaurants like the Lion (Manhattan), ABC Kitchen (Manhattan), Marlow & Sons (Brooklyn), Bantam & Biddy (Atlanta), and Miller Union (Atlanta). Raised on pasture with slower growth rates and less crowding, these animals don’t require routine antibiotics, are easier on the environment, and provide natural fertilizer.

The event is supported by Compassion in World Farming, an international organization working to end factory farming, and Georgians for Pastured Poultry. For information on Pastured Poultry Week visit their website.