Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Culinary Diplomacy: A Taste of Thanksgiving
In light of last week’s holiday (and a great example of this week’s discussion on public diplomacy), I spent a majority of November organizing an event as part of the State Department’s culinary diplomacy initiative. The “Diplomatic Culinary Partnership” was launched in order to “elevate the role of culinary engagement in America’s formal and public diplomacy efforts” (source: Press release). Entitled Taste of Thanksgiving, the event was filmed at the Blair House, the President’s guest house, and available for live streaming. Members of the American Chef Corps, a network of the nation’s distinguished chefs, worked with other locally renowned chefs to prepare traditional Thanksgiving meals. An audience from over 75 countries watched the chefs cook, collected recipes, and participated in Q&A’s. Embassies abroad expressed great interest in the event, and requested translated versions of the event to broadcast later. The success of the event was heavily dependent on the social media used to promote it; State is making a big effort to integrate technology in its diplomatic efforts, as the Comenetz article in the Washington Diplomat explains.
Aside from my general passion for food, I was personally interested because, having lived abroad and spent multiple Thanksgivings with foreigners, I am always impressed by their genuine interest in the significance of Thanksgiving. Sharing a Thanksgiving dinner, or any meal for that matter, with my friends abroad fostered cultural exchanges over the dining table. Sounds cheesy, I know, but it’s true! Similarly, the Thanksgiving event served as a tool to improve the nation’s relationships with foreign audiences.
Press release: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/09/197375.htm