This week’s posts have come from a professor, a current student, and a member of the Class of 2008. Today I’ll tell you about an alumnus whose career is quite unlike that of most of our alumni. Sam Chapple-Sokol F’12 has been writing and publishing on the topic of culinary diplomacy ever since he took Prof. Henrikson’s Diplomacy: History, Theory, and Practice. (Prof. Henrikson called Sam’s article, which grew out of a term paper, “an example and an inspiration, as to what can be done with a new idea, a scholarly interest, research knowledge, literary skill, and personal enterprise and follow-through.”)
In fact, it was Prof. Henrikson who brought Sam’s work to my attention, when he shared an update the community. Sam had recently been interviewed on “The Splendid Table,” a nationwide NPR program about food.
For those who can’t take the time to listen to (or read the transcript of) the full interview, I’ll share Sam’s definition of culinary diplomacy. He says, “I have defined culinary diplomacy, in a couple of pieces that I’ve written, as the use of food in cuisine as an instrument to create cross-cultural understanding, in the hopes of improving interactions and cooperation. That’s an academic way of saying, using food to get along with people, to talk with people, and to get to know them better.”
I reached out to Sam for a little more detail on his post-Fletcher work, and for some photos. He told me that he has been blogging and tweeting on culinary diplomacy (note that the Wikipedia entry actually refers to Sam), as well as continuing to write for publications, most recently for Public Diplomacy Magazine. (The Public Diplomacy article drew some additional attention to his work.) He has also worked at the White House as a pastry chef during two holiday seasons, and for other projects including celebrations for July 4, Halloween, the Inauguration, and the State Dinner during the visit of French President François Hollande. When not putting his own culinary skills to work, he consults for Le Club des Chefs des Chefs, an elite organization for the personal chefs of heads of state.
So far as I can remember, Sam’s work is unique among Fletcher grads, but there are many other alumni (Michelle Kwan comes to mind), whose career paths are not attainable for incoming or current students. So why highlight them in the Admissions Blog? Because it’s great to have them in the student and alumni communities! The diversity of experience among students in any classroom contributes to every student’s experience. And if the student with unusual experience (and an even more unusual future career path) happens to be a pastry chef, all the better! Finally, here are some photos from Sam’s work at the White House.