Hillary Clinton signs Indian-American chef to aid diplomatic ties

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September 13, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has roped in 80 top chefs including an Indian-American to work on "the oldest diplomatic tool" of cooking and improve America's foreign relations.

Hillary Clinton signs Indian-American chef to aid diplomatic ties. (Reuters)

September 13, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has roped in 80 top chefs including an Indian-American to work on "the oldest diplomatic tool" of cooking and improve America's foreign relations.

Hillary Clinton signs Indian-American chef to aid diplomatic ties. (Reuters)

Vikram Sunderam, a Mumbai native and executive chef at Rasika, an Indian restaurant in Washington has been anointed State Chef as part of the US State Department's Diplomatic Culinary Partnership initiative, the Washington Post reported.

The distinction of State Chef comes with a 'uniform' for chefs, a navy jacket with the American flag and their names embroidered in gold.

Sunderam had introduced local schoolchildren to "A Taste of India" at a cultural exchange at Blair House three years ago, during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's state visit in November 2009.

More than 80 top-rated chefs were inducted into the first American Chef Corps on Friday.

"Food isn't traditionally thought of as a diplomatic tool. But I think it's the oldest diplomatic tool," Clinton said in a video played at the launch.

"Sharing a meal can help people transcend boundaries and build bridges in a way that nothing else can. Certainly some of the most meaningful conversations I've had with my counterparts all over the world have taken place over breakfasts, lunches and dinners," she said.

The State Department plans to use the chefs to cook meals for visiting dignitaries and travel to US embassies abroad to help educate foreign audiences and host culinary experts from around the world in their US kitchens.

"They might meet with an embassy, cook a lunch, post blogs or [write] articles, speak at events," US Chief of Protocol Capricia Penavic Marshall was quoted as saying by the paper. The Diplomatic Culinary Partnership aims to "elevate the role of culinary engagement in America's formal and public diplomacy efforts", the report said.

The names in the roster include Ming, Bloomfield and Washington-area chef Jose Andres, who cooked for the 50th anniversary of the department's Diplomatic Reception Rooms.

Other names include Bryan Voltaggio, the Maryland chef and runner up on TV's 'Top Chef' who prepared dinner for Japan's prime minister at the National Geographic Museum in April, and Rick Bayless of Chicago who cooked President Barack Obama's second state dinner for the Mexican president.

Washington Chef Mike Isabella, who gained fame on TV's 'Top Chef', is the first new State Chef to formally represent America's food culture abroad as a culinary ambassador.


Courtesy: IE