Why aren’t more ‘celeb chefs’ using their status for good and not evil?

As a longtime fan of Tony Bourdain’s writing, as well as his television shows, I was super excited to have the opportunity to cover his visit last week to the Portland area. In particular note to Kate’s recent post, I was interested in hearing his side of the story and his thoughts on the backlash of his ‘food origin’ comment. Surprisingly, he opened his lecture by addressing his appearance with Waters, harshly referring to the organic activist as the ‘Khmer Rouge.’

“I’m not sure about organic food,” Bourdain started, “Who really benefits from organic food, other than Whole Foods?”

While I understand many of the arguments against organic foods, like price and smaller yields, I’m disappointed that more ‘celebrity’ chefs don’t utilize their celeb status to promote more sustainable food practices. One of my biggest gripes at every food festival I attend is the amount of waste, the lack of organic and local foods, and the use of plastics and other non-biodegradable serving products at every event. Oy!

On my recent visit to Vegas Uncork’d, it was encouraging to hear the real ‘celeb’ chefs – the guys really working in the kitchen vs. making television appearances, like Bradley Ogden, Rick Moonen, and Paul Bartolotta – railing for organics, locally grown produce, and environmentally-responsible business practices. I’m wondering why more ‘celeb chefs’ don’t use their status to promote more sustainable food habits. I think television chefs in particular – I’m looking at you, Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, and Sandra Lee – have a greater responsibility, not to mention a greater opportunity, to encourage environmentally-friendly food practices and production.

I have to say, I lost a little love for Bourdain after his lecture.