Looking for a Few (More!) Good Chefs

What’s Seth Bixby Daugherty—the former head chef at Cosmos and 2005 Food & Wine Best New Chefs in America winner—been up to lately? Making the world a better place, mostly. Since stepping down from his high-profile gig a few years ago, he has been teaching cooking, volunteering all over the place on issues like childhood hunger and improving lunch in our schools. Now all his work has been nationally recognized: Daugherty has been nominated for Share Our Strength’s Humanitarian Award! This is a very big deal, honoring the leaders and volunteers who have made the biggest impact. Congrats, Seth! Hope you end up with the final award (winners will be announced in Washington D.C. in November).

If you’re a chef reading this and thinking: “You know, some days I find mincing tuna unsatisfying; I too want to make the world a better place!” Yes, you can! Daugherty is about to found a new program in Minneapolis called Operation Frontline (learn all about it at www.Strength.org), which will involve chefs teaching needy families how to cook. The first session is slated to start this November 4, a Wednesday, and will run four or five hours an evening through the end of the year. The plan is that the chefs who participate in that first run with Seth will then go on to teach more classes of their own, through Operation Frontline. The initial run of classes will be held at the Mcknight Early Childhood Family Development Center (4225 3rd Ave S.) in Minneapolis, and 15 families are signed up, with more on a wait list. In other words, there are families in real need of basic cooking skills, who direly need your help.

“I left Cosmos almost three years ago,” Daugherty told me, “And I never question my decision, ever. I can’t think of any greater privilege in life than getting the chance to help people, and if I can make a few simple changes in the world with my life, that makes people’s lives better, there’s nothing better than that. Except spending time with my family. The other day I got to spend three hours making a batch of chili for my family. I slowly minced the garlic, making it perfect—how often do you get to do that? It also makes me appreciate that me and my kids know how to do that. One of the things I’ve learned since I left Cosmos is how many people lack the basic culinary skills to have a good life. I’ve been in lunchrooms where they were essentially pouring macaroni and milk and grated cheese into a pan and wondering why it was a soupy mess.”

So, have you ever thought that your basic understanding of how to make a Béchamel sauce was not the sort of thing that could change the world? Guess again! It could. That is, if you have some free Wednesday nights. Anyone who’s interested should e-mail me (dmgrumdahl at mnmo.com) and I’ll pass your e-mail on to Daugherty. Till then, congratulations, Seth!