Culinary Diplomacy: A Background

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The term ‘Culinary Diplomacy’ has been in the news a lot these days, since the State Department launched their official initiative, the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, on September 7, 2012. There have been news stories about the launch and subsequent projects taken on by State, from the national tour of a group of visiting ‘culinary experts’ from around the world to the announcement of visits to American embassies abroad by famous American chefs. A round-up of sources:

  • Photo album of the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program trip to the DC Central Kitchen, a multi-functional food shelter, culinary training center, and catering company.
  • Video of chef Mike Isabella at the US Consul in Turkey, taking part in State’s Diplomatic Culinary Partnership.
  • And many articles covering the launch, since it coincided with a visit to DC from the Association for Food Journalists. National news outlets were there, as well as local reporters, all proud that their hometown chefs (Ann Arbor, Dallas, Philly, etc.) were named to the American Chef Corps.

But what is this all about? What’s going on here? A year ago when I started researching this topic, it was a vague and highly under-developed idea; now it seems to be all the rage. Hell, there are even ‘Culinary Diplomacy’ M&Ms.

The purpose of this blog will be to explore the issues surrounding Culinary Diplomacy (and related terms, such as gastrodiplomacy, diplomatic gastronomy, etc.) with the intention of understanding the phenomenon, and pushing the boundaries of current thinking on the topic.

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