The James Beard Foundation’s 16th Chefs Boot Camp

~ Advocacy Training Program Focuses on Urgency and Mobilizing Around Upcoming Farm Bill ~

The James Beard Foundation’s 16th Chefs Boot CampSixteen culinary leaders from across the country will participate in the James Beard Foundation’s (JBF) 16th Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change from September 9-11 at Shelburne Farms in Burlington, Vermont. The focus of this retreat will be on the 2018 Farm Bill and how this powerful community of chefs can effectively use their voices to influence important issues.

“Chefs are community leaders, employers, and among the most trusted messengers when it comes to food policy in America,” said Katherine Miller, the James Beard Foundation’s vice president of Impact. “Now, while Congress is negotiating changes to the Farm Bill, which is set to expire on September 30th, it is imperative that these leaders are informed and mobilized to amplify the voices of farmers, veterans, conservationists, and children. The Farm Bill sets America’s food and farm policies for the next five years. Together with the hundreds of chefs who’ve been through Boot Camp before, this class of leaders will help ensure that farmers are protected and families have access to nutritious meals.”

Participating chefs are provided with training from industry experts, which includes classroom work, mock interviews, social media campaign creation, hands-on activities that engage the chefs with local resources, a collaborative dinner cooked by the attendees, strategic brainstorming about effective action plans, and more.

This iteration of Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change, returning to Shelburne Farms for the fourth time, will immerse participating chefs in sessions led by Miller. These include:

  • Why Chefs Voices Matter: What is advocacy, why we do it, how we do it, and what to expect from policy; engaging chefs on food-system issues.
  • How Policy Happens: Overview of policy change at local, state, and federal levels, illustrated using food waste as an example of a pressing policy issue.
  • ABCs of the Farm Bill: Chefs will learn about the different agriculture and feeding programs included in the legislation and explore ways to get involved in the debate of the nearly trillion-dollar food and agriculture bill.
  • A is for Advocacy: Why we need campaigns, how they work, and how to build them.
  • Farm Activities and Collaborative Dinner: Chefs tour Shelburne Farms and cook dinner together using ingredients harvested from the farm and sourced from local purveyors; they then sit down together and share the meal that they’ve prepared.

The September 2018 Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change will be attended by the following chefs:

  • Alex Raij, NYC
  • Ashley Christensen, Raleigh, NC (returning alumni)
  • Dr. Howard Conyers, Manning, SC
  • Edouardo Jordan, Seattle
  • James McPherson, Shelburne, VT
  • Jeff Osaka, Denver
  • Kate Williams, Detroit
  • Kristen Essig, New Orleans
  • Kristen Hall, Birmingham, AL
  • Lisa Donovan, Nashville
  • Martin Rios, Santa Fe
  • Nyesha Arrington, Los Angeles
  • Santana Diaz, Sacramento, CA
  • Sarah Hymanson, Los Angeles
  • Sasha Rajagopalan, Phoenix
  • Tony Maws, Boston

The Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change was launched in July 2012 in collaboration with James Beard Award–winning chef and founder of Wholesome Wave, Michel Nischan, and JBF trustee and founder of Arabella Advisors, Eric Kessler. The initiative is a part of the Foundation’s broader Impact Programs.

Other JBF Impact Programs that address the growing challenges facing our food system include Issue Summits; the annual Leadership Awards, which recognize visionaries helping to create a more healthful, sustainable, and safe food world; Culinary Labs, which engage chefs in hands-on opportunities around food-systems issues; Smart Catch, a sustainable seafood menu assessment program created for chefs with the purpose of increasing the sustainability of the seafood supply chain; a food waste curriculum; the Blended Burger Project; and the ongoing advocacy and issue support provided by JBF’s Chef Action Network.

More than 900 chefs have applied to the Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change program since its inception. Participants are selected to represent regional and topic interest diversity, with consideration given to the voice that each chef has within their local community and on a national level. The program is generously supported by the Carl M. Freeman Foundation in memory of chef Matt Haley; the Distinguished Vineyards portfolio, including Argyle, MacRostie, and Wither Hills wineries; Niman Ranch; the Orange Door Fund; and Windstar Cruises.

A full list of chefs who have attended the previous Boot Camps can be viewed here. Follow along on Twitter and Instagram by using the hashtags #JBFImpact and #ChefsLead. For additional information, view the Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change video feature on JBF’s YouTube channel. To apply to or support future Chefs Boot Camps for Policy and Change, please visit 

About the James Beard Foundation
The James Beard Foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone. For more than 30 years the Foundation has accomplished this mission through programs that highlight food’s central role in our lives. In addition to hosting guest-chef dinners throughout the year at the historic James Beard House in New York City, the Foundation administers the James Beard Awards; grants scholarships for culinary students; produces national events that include Taste America; and creates educational programs for the culinary community and food lovers. The Foundation addresses the growing challenges facing our food system through its Impact Programs, which include the Leadership Awards; Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change; Issue Summits; and Culinary Labs. Industry issues, such as gender imbalance and diversity in culinary leadership, are addressed through our Industry Programs. For more information, please visit and follow @beardfoundation on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.