Seattle Dames Promote Award Winning Seed-To-Table Sustainable Food System Practices

By Braiden Rex-Johnson (Seattle)

In the year 2000, long before savvy chefs throughout the country started chanting the “local, seasonal, sustainable” mantra, a handful of Dames and fellow instructors at the Seattle Culinary academy (SCA) at Seattle Central Community College were already teaching their students how to source local products and incorporate them into satisfying recipes and menu plans.

But not until June 2012 were these pioneering efforts recognized with a national green award and $1,000 prize from Kendall College and the Center for the advancement of Foodservice education (CAFÉ).

“SCA was one of the first culinary schools in the nation to offer formal coursework in sustainability, highlighting the value of local and seasonal sourcing,” said Christopher Koetke, vice president of the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts.

In addition to mandatory coursework teaching sustainable food-system practices, SCA students learn how to plant, tend, and harvest the land. Nose-to-tail butchery and food-preservation skills are taught, and students operate a GMO-free kitchen. A $50,000 gift from les Dames, Seattle Chapter, helped fund the college’s plant-science lab and green house.

Seattle Dames serving on the faculty at SCA include associate Dean Linda Pal Chauncey, program Manager Joy Gulmon- Huri, and Chef-instructor Kären Jurgensen.

Dame Jurgensen, an SCA tenured faculty member, co-authored Rethinking the Kitchen: The e Sustainable Kitchen Handbook and “Chefs on the Farm.” She serves as a chef-educator at the Quillisascut Farm School, and founded the Seattle Chapter of Chefs Collaborative (CC). She was chosen from among more than 100 people nominated to receive the CC Sustainer award during the organization’s fourth annual Sustainable Food Summit.

Held in Seattle last October and hosted by SCA, the Summit attracted 300 attendees and internationally recognized speakers including Ruth Reichl and Kim Severson.

“As a chef, I want access to flavor that only comes from just picked freshness,” Kären said. “I want diversity of products to choose from and create with. and, finally, economics—if my local farmers prosper, my community prospers, then so do I.”