Some of my fondest memories growing up were spent in the kitchen. There, I would watch my mother and grandmother zoom around, adding herbs, spices and a multitude of other ingredients together to create dishes that have been in my family for centuries. My family dynamic revolves around food. We eat it, we watch other people make it, we read cookbooks like some families read the Bible and our Sunday’s are a cross between scientific experimentation and spiritual leaps of faith as we toy with the different recipes we would like to try sometime the following week. Cooking brought my family together (even when we couldn’t be further apart). As of right now 3000 miles separate me from my Dad, my Mom and my little brother and sister and I am at the point in my life where it is likely that I will only see them on holidays (as I’m sure many of you are). So, whenever I’m homesick, I just crack open a Jacques Pepin cookbook and it’s like we never left.

Unfortunately, I know for some people food is a much more polarizing subject. It is the cause of headaches and stress as we search for what is right to eat and how much of that good food we can afford to buy. There are a number of facets that play into the rise of eating disorders, the prevalence of processed foods and fast foods and obesity but, one of the major sticking points that food writers and chefs like Michael Pollan and Alice Waters consistently touch upon is our distance from the preparation of our food. Learning how to cook used to be a necessity for survival but, with the advent of TV dinners, cooking became a luxury and partially gave rise to the obesity epidemic we have today. A few have fought back (celebrity chef Jamie Oliver being one of them) but it will take more of a grassroots effort to truly change food culture here in America. And that food revolution New York, is beginning right in your back yard.

The Mentor Young Chef competition will feature chefs aged 22 to 27 who will compete in a 2 hour long cooking extravaganza for the title of top chef. Those that win will earn a $15,000 prize that will involve stagiaries (basically an apprenticeship for three, two month periods) at some of the nations finest restaurants to further their culinary education. Maybe we will see a future Iron Chef there, maybe a few of them will draw rave reviews as head chefs and maybe, just maybe, this group of millenials will be able to help shift the food culture in our country by inspiring the rest of their young compatriots to demand healthy, quality food from those responsible for providing it. At least this author hopes so.

Please feel free to check out the event on Saturday, November 15th and hopefully we will see you at the Mentor Young Chef competition. Take care!

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