I met Corbin in Philadelphia when we both started to work for Jack McDavid at Jack's Firehouse. Kitchen work has a way of bringing people close together and you make fast friends because you're in the trenches doing some demanding work, but it's work you love.
I left Philadelphia (but only after working for Corbin when he was chef at BLT Cobblefish) and then left professional kitchens to raise kids and then to raise kids while writing about food. Corbin's path took him to New Orleans before AND after Katrina, where he helped put Savvy Gourmet on the map, and where Savvy Gourmet helped New Orleans right back. But he came back to the Northeast. Thanks to Facebook and email, I haven't lost touch. I've even interviewed him about favorite kitchen tools that chefs should also have at home (Corbin loved the fish spatuala, wide, flat, flexible and good for a lot of things in the kitchen)...
I remember Corbin as tall, soft-spoken (even in a ..."loud" kitchen, if we would like to use that word for Jack's) and an incredible cook--someone who is thoughtful about food. Here's what he wrote about the food in his life today--as in today, Tuesday, May 18, 2010--and about what is uppermost in his mind in the food world...
whole grain bread with balsamic-shallot mustard and a side of Kara Kara Orange wedges. Very healthy, very high in the "good fats" we all need more of these days. I finished it off with a piece of really good organic-free trade chocolate. Total cost was maybe $3.25. I love food and I love to cook and I really love to eat. But I am lucky because I have a choice in what I eat. I am capable of buying what is good for me and preparing it in a way that is healthy and flavorful. I know that not everyone is as lucky as me. I know, from experience, that not everyone has the ability to buy, prepare and consume wholesome, fresh and healthy foods. I think the #1 issue we should all be concerned with at the moment, other than being aware of the "man-made" disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the devastating long-term after effects of the region and the amazing people of that area, is making sure ALL people have access to the things so many of us take for granted. A handful of issues prevent many people from eating right and, even more importantly, from feeding our children a nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner. As a country, if we waste as much food as we consume then the issue is not quantity. The issue is quality, affordability and getting it to the people who need it most. I wish kids didn't "have" to eat fast food because it was easier for their Moms and Dads. As a kid, I remember when a trip to Wendy's was a special treat! I think we all know what needs to be done...now how do we do it?
Me again: Okay. So. How DO we do it? Let us know what you think about the challenge of getting quality affordable food to the people in our country who need it most. I will be sure to pass your comments on to Corbin.
How do we do it? That's tricky. Food is hooked into so many other factors—education, geography, culture, economics, etc.
To eat locally, cities in the desert must consume more water for irrigation. To eat locally, the other 49 states must drive California into a bigger economic sinkhole.
But with new studies linking ADHD and pesticides, and yet another disaster related to oil (that we use to get our food from point A to point B), there's no doubt that it's more important than ever.
The first step, perhaps? A change in municipal laws that ban chickens, milking goats, bees, roof-top gardens, etc. It was amazing to see the Roberta's Pizza in Bushwick (Brooklyn), with its greenhouses and bees out back; I think the same could work in other cities.
You are right, Ron, that change in municipal laws could be a great step. I did a story on backyard bees here in Charlotte--no ban here UNLESS you happen to be in some of the fancy subdivisions, where livestock is prohibited--and bees are considered livestock!
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