A LETTER TO CULINARY STUDENTS

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My professional life has been spent in kitchens and in culinary classrooms; connected to cooks, chefs, bakers, restaurateurs, product development professionals, servers, bartenders, and dishwashers. I have invested 50 years in service of the product and the farmer, the fisherman and the cattle rancher, and the cheese maker, bread baker, winemaker and coffee roaster. These are people that I am closest to – the ones whom I most easily relate to, and the people who I understand. So, these are also the people with whom I can speak honestly and directly.

As tomorrows leaders in the food business I think that it is extremely important for you to know just how significant and powerful you are. We live in a country, even with its obvious flaws, that provides opportunities for you and everyone around you to live the kind of life that you want to live, to be the kind of person that you want to be, and to aspire to a level of personal and professional success that few others in the world have a chance to reach for. All of this is made possible by the system that our forefathers designed in 1776. It was the American Constitution that outlined the type of country that we were designed to be and the character of the people who call themselves citizens. The integrity of this design is solidified through our right, privilege, and responsibility to vote in elections. These local, regional, state, and national elections provide the opportunity for us to put individuals into public office who will represent our beliefs and represent the beliefs that are outlined in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the amendments over the years that define who Americans are.

The worldview of America and each of us who live here is a direct result of how we approach this right to vote. Remember, that in many countries there is no vehicle for public ownership of the vision and actions of the country they call home; we have this opportunity and must treasure it as a most wonderful gift. When each of us looks in the mirror each day we can see a person who has the power to make a difference, a person who can help to define how we, as a people, will be perceived by others. We can see the person that our children, brothers and sisters, relatives, friends and associates depend on. Our single votes matter and we should never forget that. Even if the candidates whom we support do not win their elections, our vote matters because we take the opportunity to stand up for what we believe is important, is right, and is representative of the America that we want to be a part of.

If we want to reflect on those who sacrifice for this right: the soldiers, public servants, firemen, police officers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and other hard working Americans, we should understand that the most disrespectful action that we could participate in is inaction when it comes to voting.

“Too many people fought too hard to make sure all citizens of all colors, races, ethnicities, genders, and abilities can vote to think that not voting somehow sends a message.”

-Luis Gutierrez

Just as your culinary skills and approach towards the preparation and presentation of food will have an impact on the food industry of the future – your approach towards taking a few minutes on the first Tuesday in November to VOTE will have a significant impact on the future of America. Those few minutes will impact our lives for many, many years to come.

“Young people need to vote. They need to get out there. Every vote counts. Educate yourself too. Don’t just vote. Know what you’re voting for, and stand by that”

-. Nikki Reed

Whether you are a democrat, republican, or independent; whether you lean towards a conservative mindset or one that is far more liberal or progressive – voting is the most sacred opportunity that is in your grasp. For a country of people that enjoy the most freedom to live as they choose – we are incredibly lax with regard to this privilege to vote and help to control our destiny. In the 2016 national election there were more than 100 million eligible American voters who simply chose not to take those few minutes to exercise the most important task of citizenship. That is incredibly depressing and impossible to understand. YOUR VOTE MATTERS!

I can’t talk in the same manner to those outside of my world of food people, but I can talk with you. I feel obliged to talk with you. Be the kind of leader in the food business that I know you have the potential to be, but even more importantly be the kind of American that you have the potential to be. Don’t squander this incredible right, privilege, and responsibility. No matter how busy you are, no matter what else you might want to do at the time, MAKE THE TIME TO VOTE and then look in a mirror and know that you have exercised this incredible right that millions of others throughout the world would give their lives to have.

Whoever sits in local, regional, state, or national offices in the future and decides what your rights will be, will sit in their office as a result of your action or inaction as a voter. If you are unhappy with how your government is run – look in a mirror.

There is nothing more important on November 6 than taking the time to vote for the candidates that you want making decisions for your future. Be a responsible person and do the right thing.

I know I want to vote for honesty, fairness, integrity, respect, fiscal responsibility, the rights the Constitution was meant to protect, and the freedoms that others in the world admire and in many cases are envious of. That’s me, that’s what I believe is important. You should vote for what you feel is at the core of what makes America such a unique place to live. Vote your conscience – I will vote mine.

NOVEMBER 6 WILL DEFINE AMERICA – VOTE!

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”

-Franklin D. Roosevelt

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