Lauder Students Gain Insights from Civic-Minded Chefs

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Group PhotoFamous chefs are not only visionaries and entrepreneurs; they often become civic leaders. A team of Lauder students has investigated the motivations for chefs to be socially engaged and to give back to their communities, both locally and globally. Lauder students Campbell Marshall, Zurine Eguizabal, Azita Habibi, Jacob Whalen, and Andrew Smolenski traveled throughout the United States, Peru, and Kenya to interview chefs and learn more about their pedigree as gastronomy innovators and as community builders. The team also made a donation on behalf of The Lauder Institute and Susan Kamau (their chef host in Kenya) to the Community Cooker at the Naivasha slum outside of Nairobi, Kenya (see photo). The results of their research will appear in the form of a website hosted by the Lauder Institute.

Andrew Smolenski (Lauder ’14, French) says: “We can’t thank enough our chefs for their hospitality. Over the course of a week in Kenya, Susan showed us a world unlike anything we had ever seen, where food, water, and energy are more than scarce and subsistence is based on real grit and creativity. In these situations which are seemingly bleak, we discovered a real spark of innovation that can really change the world.”