Join us for the final part of our three-part interview series with chef Gabe Kennedy. In part III of this series, you’ll hear about the legacy Gabe wants to leave behind, as well as the food causes he cares about most.

If you missed the earlier parts of the series, see part I here and part II here.

Gabe is the winner of season three of ABC’s reality cooking compitetion, The Taste. Gabe is also a Visiting Executive Chef at Bon Appetit and an ambassador for Concern Worldwide.

In part III of this series, you’ll hear about the legacy Gabe wants to leave behind, as well as the food causes he cares about most.

Let’s talk legacy. How can your cooking make a difference?

My goal is to get people to start cooking for themselves. I want to act as a source of inspiration so people can start to enjoy taking time to nourish themselves, nourish people they love, and take care of the planet. I believe that the kitchen is the perfect place to start that.

What I care about is shifting the way that we look at food, and the relationship that we have with food, so that we understand where it comes from, and are aware of its implications to our health and the health of the planet. I would love to get people to be a little bit more curious. I love asking questions about where my food comes from, because it’s ultimately the most intimate interaction we have—not only with one another, but with the planet.

I don’t think there’s a responsibility from all chefs to be a voice for conscious consumption, but I feel a firm responsibility in my own person to be a voice that’s advocating for a sustainable system and health and wellness. Ultimately, we can support systems that are perpetuating beautiful goodness in the world, or disenfranchising people and animals in a really grotesque way.

I don’t care if people know me for it or not, but I want to be involved in changing the way we relate to food. I want to do everything that I can to create systems that work together to support the health of people and to support the health of the planet and our environment.

With that being said, what impact does food have on culture in general?

I think that food has a way broader impact that anyone could ever imagine. I think that the impact food has on culture is probably so big that I can’t even comprehend it.

Our culture and our food, in the US, is driven by meat, and meat as an industry is responsible for more greenhouse gases than transportation. Meat is then driving our healthcare cost up, because we get sick, we have cardiac disease. Then we have the resource consumption. We’re chopping down our forests, so we can grow more soy beans that will feed the cows. Then the cows need land, so we chop down more trees. And all of that requires a lot of water, which can cause water issues elsewhere.

Food is this crazy complex thing that is being driven by multiple inputs, but ultimately our food is shaping our culture. People are looking to America as a cultural influencer, so if we’re eating a hamburger every day, people are going to start wanting to eat hamburgers every day. Is that sustainable? It’s not.

In short, food is the largest driver of culture that I’m aware of. I would say food and petroleum, and I don’t want to deal with petroleum.

Last but not least, how do you relax?

Good question. Sometimes I cook to relax. I walk. I like walking, so I walk. I do a little meditation. Where I find deep relaxation is getting back to nature in any kind of capacity that I can. You know one of my favorite quotes is “you don’t have a home until you have a garden.” I think that’s really beautiful, because it shows how important that natural pace of life is. I think there’s this big disconnect; this need for convenience. We forget that things take time. It takes 110 days for a watermelon to grow. So yeah, I love getting back to nature and taking a moment to get in touch with the natural pace of life. That’s what really relaxes me. Going out and experiencing the world that’s been relatively untouched by people or technology.

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