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Meet Board Member Monique Marez

September 17, 2012

Howdy All!  My name is Monique and here is a bit about my summer!

This summer I took classes, and worked at the James Beard Foundation . Most widely known for hosting the James Beard Awards, aka the Oscars of the food world, the James Beard Foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture, and preserve America’s diverse culinary heritage and future.

You may be asking yourself what does that have to do with public policy?  Well, a lot!  In addition to the James Beard Awards and providing millions of $$ to professional food students all over the country JBF plays a critical role in educating the chef and foodie community on our food system.

This summer I helped plan the inaugural James Beard Foundation Chef Boot Camp for Policy and Change at the Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN.  We partnered with the Pew charitable trust to, host sixteen stellar chefs who are looking to help change our food system, one plate and one public opinion at a time. This event focused on giving star chefs the tools they need to use their place in the community to be an advocate for the positive food movement. Chefs were also able to create a farm to table feast, and really understand where their food comes from.

Along with planning the policy boot camp, I worked on the Enlightened Eater series. This program features authors who are focused on health, wellness, and sustainability in the food system. My favorite talk this summer was by Tracie McMillan author of The American Way of Eating. Tracie’s book covers how different groups of American’s feed themselves on a minimum budget. Going undercover as a garlic picker, a Wal-Mart shelf stocker, and a prep cook at Applebee’s, Tracie uncovers some hard truths about our current dietary habits. The Enlightened Eaters series is FREE for students. If you have never been to the Beard House before, this is a doubly great opportunity.

In addition to enjoying fantastic meals at the House, and fundraising in the Hamptons, I’m working on the JBF Food Conference and Leadership Awards. This year’s theme is A Crisis in Confidence: Creating a Safer More Sustainable Food World We Can Trust. The two-day conference brings in thought leaders from all over the country to pose questions and solutions for problems that face our food world every day (Oct.17 and 18, 2012). We also honor outstanding leaders in the food movement. Check out this video from last year’s conference…  Is that Dr. Nestle and Sam Kass?!

Outside of class and JBF, I managed to canoe through the Adirondacks, experiment with CSA veggies, see Shakespeare, the NY Phil, and the Met Opera in the park and wow some Central Parkers with my sling shot. Being as this was my first go at it, I must say I love New York in the summertime.

A solid welcome, and welcome back, to you all. I look forward to meeting you at our events at talkin’ Food.

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