There aren’t many people who former President Barack Obama will describe as being “like one of the family”. Chef Sam Kass is one of them.
The 38-year-old Chicagoan joined Obama’s staff in 2007, when the 44th President was still a promising Junior Sena-tor from Illinois. By 2009 Kass had become assistant chef at the White House and then, shortly afterwards, the food initiative coordinator – assisting First Lady Michelle Obama – and enjoyed an unlikely position for a professional chef; that of policymaker.
When in May the two men found themselves on the stage of Seeds&Chips, the Global Food Innovation Summit in Milan, organised by Marco Gualtieri, they were like a couple of old friends meeting up after a time apart, oblivious to the thousands of people in front of them.
Introducing Kass to the crowd, Obama said that the man with the shaved head and massive build had “changed America”.
In 2013, Kass was named senior policy advisor for nutrition, while working side by side with the First Lady in the White House gardens to set up the ambitious Let’s Move! project, the federal campaign introduced by the Obamas to combat childhood obesity and promote the culture of healthy eating in schools.
In 2011, Fast Company magazine included him in its list of 100 Most Creative People and he has said that “cooking is the simplest facet of creativity”. With this is mind, he took part in the 2012 launch of the American Chef Corps, a pro-ject that helps promote international relations through food, based on a concept brilliantly summarised by then Secre-tary of State Hillary Clinton when she called food “the oldest diplomatic tool”.