Culinary Diplomacy with Chef Todd Gray

Vicki Heyman, Chef Todd Gray and Jean-François Archambault with a young aspiring chef at the Pearson School of Culinary Arts.

We were proud to partner with local non-profit organization La Tablée des Chefs to host the first culinary diplomacy program between Canada and the United States, in Montreal and Quebec City. Culinary diplomacy is defined as the use of food and cuisine as an instrument to create cross-cultural understanding in the hopes of improving interactions and cooperation. Its origins are rooted in ancient history and based on the premise that “the easiest way to win hearts and minds is through the stomach.” Chef Todd Gray, co-owner with his wife Ellen of Equinox restaurant in Washington, D.C., was one of the original chefs in the American Chef Corps, and was a perfect match for this program considering his dedication to promoting healthy lifestyles for elementary students and their families with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools program.

Vicki Heyman, wife of U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman, Chef Gray, and Consul General Nina Maria Fite articulated the Embassy’s commitment to worldwide culinary diplomacy initiatives. During his time in Quebec, Chef Gray worked with local chefs to educate youth about social and nutritional issues surrounding food through culinary workshops in local high schools. He also conducted a cooking demonstration for culinary students at the Pearson School of Culinary Arts, met with staff at the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec to discuss potential future culinary cross-border collaborations, and engaged with local chefs in Montreal and Quebec City to discuss how to maximize the impact of their social outreach on topics of youth nutrition and sustainability of food sourcing. Participants also received a tour of the Welcome Hall Mission to learn more about La Tablée des Chef’s food recovery program.

We would like to thank all participants for their contribution to this tasteful opportunity to share common values and a vision for a more sustainable food system. You can see photos of the events on our Flickr page.