Who's the latest chef to represent America abroad? Why, it's Mike Isabella, former Top Chef contestant and owner of Graffiato and Bandolero. Tom Sietsema reports today that the State Department and James Beard Foundation are launching a Diplomatic Culinary Partnership that will set up a "network of culinary leaders" known as the American Chef Corps, whose roster includes Isabella along with fellow former cheftestapant Bryan Voltaggio, Rasika's Vikram Sunderam and the no-brainer pick José Andrés — who already has been serving as a culinary ambassador. So what will these celebrity chefs actually do for the State Department? Well, per the piece:
1) "They might meet with an embassy, cook a lunch, post blogs or [write] articles, speak at events," says [U.S. Chief of Protocol Capricia Penavic] Marshall.
2) Wear "navy-blue jackets set off with an American flag, the seal of the State Department and their names embroidered in gold on the front."
The State Department has been making noise for some time now about using food as diplomacy — and Marion Nestle over at Food Politics has the initial one-pager on the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership's mission statement, objectives and programs, though please note that this document has evolved in the last month and will look different when the program and the rest of the chefs in this esteemed celebrity chef corps are announced on Friday. So congrats to everybody, and most especially to America.
UPDATE: More chefs tapped for the State Department program include Art Smith, who Eater Chicago reports will be cooking at the Setting the Table for Diplomacy dinner on Friday alongside chefs Bryan Voltaggio, Mary Sue Milliken and Amanda Freitag. And just into the Eater inbox is word that locals David Guas (Bayou Bakery), Robert Wiedmaier (Marcel's) and Chris Jakubiec (Plume) are all involved in the initiative as well.