Chicago chef Sam Kass has been tapped by the Obamas to serve under Cristeta Comerford in the White House kitchen. Something of a community organizer himself, Kass recently spearheaded a series of events at the historic Jane Addams Hull-House Kitchen that just so happened to be centered around soup.Kass served at Chicago's Avec restaurant before moving on to found Inevitable Table, a private chef service committed to healthy food. He also helped develop the "Rethinking Soup" series at the Jane Addams Hull-House Kitchen. The weekly lunch program offered free soup – made from locally sourced ingredients – and open discussions on food and socio-political issues.
At the second "Soup Soapbox" event last June, Kass opened a discussion on art and food, noting the history behind the Hull-House Kitchen where luminaries such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Gertrude Stein and Eleanor Roosevelt came to "debate, eat, discuss and seek a better world." He continued:
It's in that tradition that we're here today, and we look to soup because there's no force on the globe that brings people together on a daily basis with the same consistency and manner than the cultivation, preparation and eating of food. Food affords us the opportunity to touch everyone in our community, to address the needs of all groups – food is the intersection of the most pressing issues of our time. The menu of this kitchen will have more than soup; it will serve as an opportunity to explore the vast untapped power of food as a force for participatory democracy, as a means of empowerment for those who have little and as a lens through which we embrace, and in fact relish, our differences but see and live through our commonalities. If you eat, then you are a part of this.
On the menu that day was a Spicy Miso Vegetable Soup, and the recipe for that and other soups can be found on the Hull-House Kitchen blog. The Hull-House Museum has also compiled audio recordings of several "Rethinking Soup" events, which are available online. Check them out if you'd like to hear more from Kass and other participants.
As for Kass, we're glad to know this thoughtful hometown chef will be working in the nation's most powerful kitchen.
Related: Obama's Honest Tea in the White House
(Image: Jane Addams Hull-House Kitchen)