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White House signs up 80 top chefs to improve foreign relations

Press Trust of India  |  London 

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has signed up 80 celebrity chefs from across the nation to cook special themed-menus for foreign dignitaries in an attempt to influence diplomatic relations, the Daily Mail reported.

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

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.

"The new Diplomatic Culinary Partnership is part of Clinton's philosophy of using 'every diplomatic tool at our disposal," US Chief of Protocol Capricia Penavic Marshall was quoted as saying by the paper.

"By incorporating elements of our visitor's culture, we can demonstrate respect and a desire to connect and engage," explained Marshall.

Chefs who have prepared a diplomatic meal or special program are being anointed State Chefs, a distinction that comes with a navy jacket with the American flag and their names embroidered in gold.

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

Food can send a message, Andres said, so he served dignitaries Louisiana Gulf shrimp to send a signal of support to fishermen struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina.

He said showcasing the nation's diverse offerings also shows that America "is more than just hot dogs and burgers".

Other big names enlisted include Bryan Voltaggio, the Maryland chef and runner up on TV's 'Top Chef' who prepared dinner for Japan's prime minister, 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.

"Even if we don't understand what we're saying across the table from each other, we understand how happy we are when we're sitting down together," he said.


First Published: Mon, September 10 2012. 17:26 IST