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National Restaurant Association - Marc Murphy cooks up diplomacy

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Marc Murphy cooks up diplomacy

For Marc Murphy, getting involved in the State Department’s Diplomatic Culinary Partnership was a no-brainer.

Since 2012, the chef-restaurateur and TV personality has served as a culinary ambassador, sharing American food, culture, traditions and experiences with diplomats, other chefs and culinary professionals around the globe. Participating in the program has allowed this son of a diplomat to combine patriotism and a curiosity of the world.

“Diplomacy always works better when people are surrounded by food and drink,” he says. “The last time I’d been to the State Department was when my father had been a diplomat. I was about 10 or 12 years old, and he was showing me his office there. So returning was kind of weird. I don’t know if it informed my decision to do this, but I’m glad I did. It’s a great program and I’ve really enjoyed it.”

The program, created with the James Beard Foundation, showcases the talents of 60 professional chefs, including Murphy. They volunteer their time and travel to far-flung places where the United States builds its diplomatic relationships while demonstrating the country’s love of food.

On an eight-day trip to Turkey, Murphy cooked eggplant in an Istanbul TV studio with a popular Turkish chef. “The feedback we got was amazing. Our embassy said we’d gotten in touch with more people than we could have in any other way. It was great having a Turkish and an American chef, arm in arm, cooking on a TV show with no problems, just love of food, country and the culinary arts.

”That sends a great message around the world – that we are not bad people, have a love of food in our country and want to eat, drink and have fun in a certain sense. We need to let people know we’re just people, too. We’re changing preconceived notions about who and what we are.”

Murphy, who during his travels wears a navy-blue chef jacket with an American flag and State Department seal, also went to China, where he cooked for government officials. “It’s been great to meet these people who, in the end, all share an interest in food,” he says. “That’s the one thing we all have in common on this planet.”

Pictured, top right: Chef restaurateur and TV personality Marc Murphy says, "Diplomacy always works better when people are surrounded by food and drink."

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