Washington — Culinary experts from 25 different countries are visiting the United States September 6–28 to explore the role of food in bringing people of varied backgrounds together. They will meet with chefs, farmers and culinary experts across the country.
The participants are all respected members of the culinary, education and journalism communities of their countries and most have worked in the culinary field for decades, the U.S. Department of State said September 5. They come from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Burma, Cambodia, Canada, China, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Namibia, Palestinian Territories, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Their exchange, called “Culinary Diplomacy: Promoting Cultural Understanding Through Food,” is sponsored by the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).
The exchange will open in Washington, where participants will attend sessions on the importance of culinary diplomacy, agriculture in the United States and the federal system of government. Participants will spend a morning volunteering at the D.C. Central Kitchen, a local program that uses job training, food distribution and support for local food systems to build long-term solutions to the problems of poverty, hunger and homelessness. They will also attend a culinary event at the U.S. Department of State hosted by the Office of the Chief of Protocol.
Participants will then travel to New York to explore the role of urban initiatives for food development and learn about how collaboration among chefs, schools and farms can bring local fresh foods to the city.
Next, they will travel to San Francisco and Napa Valley, California, for a firsthand look at culinary education in the United States and the farm-to-table movement. They will then split off into four groups, with each group studying rural farming communities and sustainable farming practices in Freeport or Sterling, Illinois, and Grand Island or Omaha, Nebraska.
The delegation will reunite in Des Moines, Iowa, where they will attend the World Food Festival.
The exchange will conclude in New Orleans, where participants will learn about cuisine specialties of the United States, food tourism, industry volunteerism and culinary youth initiatives.