You’ve probably all played this game before. Name 5 people dead or alive that you’d like to have to dinner. I’ve seen the game circulate on Facebook and through various emails numerous times. It’s always fun to see who people select and why and to think about who I would select and why. Lo and behold yesterday Jeff and I started thinking about it yet again only this time, we wanted to limit it to specific groups. I got to thinking about who would be the food world figures I’d want to have around a dinner table. Now, our dining room table seats 14, so counting us, that means we would have space to invite 12 special guests. Here is my wish list. I can only imagine how fascinating the conversation would be.
1) Julia Child-That one was obvious as I am probably her biggest fan ever. But more importantly, Julia is a fascinating character for two major reasons. I would argue that she pioneered the notion of a TV Celebrity Chef. Secondly, she broke into a field that prior to her was dominated by men and to a certain extent opened the doors for other women to pursue culinary professions.
2) Anthony Bourdain-The irreverent chef, author and host of several travel/food shows is not only fiercely intelligent but quite thought provoking on the subject of all things food/culture related. He is also uber sexy.
3) Michelle Obama-Her Let’s Move campaign is something I have been passionate about for a long time. What we eat and how it relates to our health both as individuals and as a nation is extremely important and someone in her position gives so much credibility to the cause.
4) Michael Pollan-This journalist who wrote my favorite book Omnivore’s Dilemma is someone who I greatly respect with regard to his diligence in exposing the dangers of a corporate dominated food system. He opened my eyes to many of the things I am now passionate about, i.e. organic, fresh, local food and eating for health.
5) Thomas Keller-Arguably one of the most influential chefs of the last 20 years. His French Laundry revolutionized the culinary scene and he has since trained numerous brilliant chefs who currently head the top rated restaurants in the world. I particularly am inspired by his creative and playful approach to food and his down to earth demeanor.
6) Grant Achatz-The current big man on top with respect to the food scene. Next and Alinea are certainly two of the top restaurants in Chicago and perhaps in the world. I also find his story of battling throat cancer and how it influenced his cooking to be tremendously awe inspiring.
7) Jamie Oliver-He is a hero in my book for his dedication to battling youth obesity and trying to change the food system in our schools. His Food Revolution prompted me to act personally with regards to educating kids about real food and how it can impact their lives long term.
8) Paula Wolfert-Chef and author of the first cookbook on Moroccan cuisine called Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco and more recently The Food of Morocco has inspired me since my early days in the kitchen. Her work was integral in my research for my Master’s Thesis on Moroccan Tea Ritual and her knowledge about Moroccan food and culture is tremendous.
9) Mark Bittman-Chef/author who regularly contributes to the NY Times on the subject of food. Fiercely intelligent, outspoken and en pointe with his assessments about the current state of food in this country.
10) Ferran Adria-Often cited with starting the trend of molecular gastronomy and owner of what was long considered to be one of the best restaurants in the world prior to its closing in 2011, El Bulli.
11) James Beard-The flamboyant chef/author was oft cited as being larger than life. He was passionate about food and was certainly influential in bringing haute cuisine to this country during the 20th century.
12) Auguste Escoffier-Father of the brigade de cuisine system still utilized in formal kitchens to this day and credited with codifying haute French cuisine.
That rounds out the group. An eclectic mix to say the least. Now, what would I serve them? That’s a topic for another blog post.