Chefs are Natural Givers

By February 9, 2024February 15th, 2024Blog, The Power of Cooking

Written by Barbara A. Glassman

One of the most exciting aspects of my job as an Executive Director is how much it varies from day to day. Some of the tasks I love, like working with the team to brainstorm our organizational values, and some I like less, such as the endless calls with financial institutions to ensure tight fiscal controls. 

But by far the best part of my job is the people I meet along the way. My responsibility is to network with a broad array of stakeholders who are invested in our work. These include donors and funders, but also leaders of partner organizations and coalitions, industry allies, government officials, as well as our students and their families.

Last month, I had the privilege of getting to know a special group of professionals with a passion for giving back to the community. The Sylvia Center officially launched its Culinary Council with a kick-off meeting that convened an amazing and diverse group of health and hospitality professionals, chefs, business owners, food writers and social media influencers. They come to us with a shared passion for teaching and mentorship, a desire to promote wellness and sustainability and, not surprisingly, the appetite to create community.  

Let me give you a little background. 

When I joined The Sylvia Center (TSC), the leadership team told me about an extensive but untapped network of people who they believed could help amplify our work and increase our impact. Since my mandate is to grow the organization and provide access to our programs for more students and families, it seemed time–and worth the effort–to coalesce this untapped group. 

I have been in the nonprofit education sector most of my career, but this is the first time I have worked at an organization whose mission is to promote health and well-being through culinary programming. Learning about the community of stakeholders invested in this issue has surprised me. Maybe it shouldn’t have because those attracted to hospitality and cooking have a natural inclination to want to make people happy. As one TSC board member said, “Chefs are natural givers.”

We started with modest goals for the Culinary Council, hoping to attract approximately 10 community stakeholders. The idea was to bring together a diverse group of culinary professionals who would donate their time and talents to our organization, disseminate our message, and provide students with experiences to which they would unlikely otherwise have access. We envisioned guest chefs at classes, site visits to businesses, panel discussions and networking, co-created recipes, celebrity chef appearances at events, and Instagram takeovers. 

By connecting our students with this group of hospitality-passionate individuals, our goal is to open new doors of creativity, independence, and knowledge for our students–in and out of the kitchen.

Today we have more than 20 members on TSC’s Culinary Council who have turned a dream into a reality for our organization. We are very excited for what the future will bring for our students.

Until next month, be powerful in the kitchen–and your community!

Barbara A. Glassman, Executive Director

P.S.  Don’t miss the chance to join our community at our annual benefit gala, The Art of Cooking next month on March 12. You’ll get to meet some of the amazing members of TSC’s Culinary Council and dine on savory bites crafted by our students. You won’t want to miss it!