Former White House Chef, Sam Kass, on Life After Cooking For Obama (Exclusive)
One of the dreamiest aspects of living in the White House is — without a doubt — having access to the on-site chefs, who are there to cater to the POTUS and their families. With extensive backgrounds in the culinary arts, several go on to do seriously amazing things in the world of food, politics, and everything in between. For example, former White House chef Sam Kass, who worked during the Obama administration, is now a full-time food activist who advocates for food equity issues.
He is collaborating with Blue Apron on behalf of Pass the Love w/ Waffles + Mochi which was created by former FLOTUS Michelle Obama, in Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA). The Pass The Love Meal Kits will be Blue Apron's three most affordable boxes, and Kass developed one recipe in each of them. We were lucky enough to speak with Kass via email about this awesome project, and about his time in the White House — needless to say, he's had some seriously unreal job experience.
Blue Apron's Pass The Love Meal Kits, which were inspired by Netflix's popular series, Waffles + Mochi, include three kid-friendly recipes that are meant to inspire families to cook together. Kass says he's thrilled he was able to work on something that promotes bringing tasty, healthy food to the homes of people who might not be able to afford the boxes otherwise.
"The best part of this partnership is using my passion for food equity and sustainability to show that cooking delicious and nutritious meals at home does not have to be difficult or time consuming," he tells Green Matters exclusively.
"These recipes are fun for the whole family and really teach children the value of caring about what we put into our bodies, starting right at home in our kitchens... created with the goal of removing the barriers to home cooking by featuring wholesome, kid-friendly and accessible ingredients found in most local grocery stores so that families can learn to recreate and evolve the dishes as they go," he says. "I recognized that this was an impactful opportunity to make a difference through food."
Here's what else Kass had to say about food equity issues and his experience of working during the Obama administration.
GREEN MATTERS: What are some of the biggest issues we face in food equity, and how do you think we can combat them?
SAM KASS: We need stronger policies at the local, state and federal level that strengthen programs that are preventing food insecurity, especially for kids and families. Affordability and accessibility to nutritious, sustainable foods also continues to be a major problem in food equity, but I am confident that as time goes on, more and more people will realize that these issues continue to exist and we can be doing so much more to distribute food access more evenly.
One of the first steps in tackling food insecurity is acknowledging it exists, so seeing large companies like Blue Apron participate in such impactful campaigns like Pass the Love is incredibly inspiring to me and gives me hope that more large corporations will take a firmer stance.
GM: The agricultural and farming industries are some of the leading causes of global warming — what do you think is the best way to lower your impact at home, when buying food?
SK: Trying to reduce the amount of meat you’re buying, especially red meat, and eating more plant-based foods, including vegetables, fruit, grains and beans is the most important thing you can do. Buying local is another way to make an impact. Not only are you supporting local businesses, but you are working directly with farmers who can tell you exactly where your food is coming from.
Limiting trips to the grocery store and being more thoughtful and intentional about your purchases also can have a large impact, as well as leaning into meal kit delivery services like Blue Apron, whose recipes come with exact portion sizes, limiting food waste.
GM: What are some easy ways to make cooking at home simultaneously more healthy and affordable?
SK: Invest in whole foods and a variety of lean proteins, fresh produce, and whole grains. Having these ingredients readily available helps you make better choices in the kitchen and create a breadth of dishes that not only taste good, but are good for you. It’s all about setting yourself up for success and having a kitchen with healthy, easy essentials on hand.
GM: What were some of the Obamas' favorite meals? Did the Obamas have any meatless favorites?
SK: The Obama’s were really dedicated to a balanced approach to food. While they didn’t have a favorite dish, President Obama liked to splurge on a burger or fries. But they really practice what they preach by eating well day in and day out. A lot of their favorite recipes came to life from what we hand on hand in the White House Garden, like my go to Mustard Green Salad.