Chef Tom Colicchio and Senator Bob Kerrey on the Power of Citizenship

Interview by Billy Shore

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Is our divided political culture energizing or suppressing democracy? Former Nebraska Governor and US Senator Bob Kerrey and renowned chef, restaurateur and food activist Tom Colicchio join Billy Shore to discuss the politics of hunger, public education and the role of the citizen in democracy. “The real problem in the food system is [it doesn’t] permit the kind of innovation that will produce a different outcome. You’ve got to create a system whereby the innovators who want to deliver healthy food have an opportunity to get in the door and be successful,” explains Kerrey. Colicchio agrees and talks about the insights he gained from his wife’s (Laurie Silverbush) groundbreaking film about hunger in America, A Place at the Table. “People aren’t hungry in this country because of famine, war or drought. We have enough food to feed people. We don’t have enough political will to feed people,” he notes.

Resources and Mentions:

Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio is chef and owner of Crafted Hospitality. Colicchio made his New York cooking debut at prominent restaurants including The Quilted Giraffe, Gotham Bar & Grill and Gramercy Tavern before opening Craft in 2001. In an effort to broaden his long-standing activism around food issues, Colicchio served as an executive producer to the 2013 documentary “A Place at the Table” about the underlying causes of hunger in the United States. He has become a mainstay in Washington DC, holding members of Congress accountable on their voting records around food. In response to the pandemic's impact on the restaurant industry, he co-founded the Independent Restaurant Coalition which successfully lobbied for Congress to pass the $28.6 billion RESTAURANTS grant program. Colicchio also hosts the Citizen Chef podcast that looks at how politics and policy affect food access.

Bob Kerrey

Served as the 35th Governor of Nebraska from 1983 to 1987 and US Senator from Nebraska from 1989 to 2001. While Senator, Billy Shore served as his chief of staff. Before entering politics, he served in the Vietnam War as a Navy Seal officer and was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in combat. From 2001 to 2010, he served as president of The New School, a university in New York City. Kerrey is a co-chair for the Advisory Board of Issue One, an organization that describes its mission as “fighting for real solutions to the problem of money in politics.”

Citizen Chef

Tom Colicchio has issues with food! Citizen Chef is about what we eat, where and who it comes from, and the politics, decisions, policies and people that shape our food system – with the goal of turning curious listeners into more informed, engaged citizens. Restaurateur, activist and Top Chef head judge Tom Colicchio dives into food and policy issues with lawmakers, journalists and food producers by connecting the dots of how our food system really works – and really doesn’t – all while remaining positive and presenting attainable solutions to some of the biggest food issues out there.

Independent Restaurant Coalition

The Independent Restaurant Coalition was formed to save the local restaurants and bars affected by COVID-19 and the subsequent economic fallout. Together, they represent 500,000 small businesses across this country, playing a key role in the $760 billion restaurant economy.

Crafted Hospitality

When Craft opened in 2001, it changed the landscape of fine dining in New York City and around the country.  Since then we have taken our unwavering focus on the use of the best, seasonal and sustainably-farmed ingredients and used that as the creative inspiration for the development of other restaurants around the country.

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