Whole Life Magazine

December/January 2014

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/426101

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Page 21 of 43

hen it comes to giving back in a way that's more meaningful than donating money, we're oen stymied by a lack of time, skills or expertise. But we can all learn from those who show that sometimes the simple act of sharing your passion can make all the difference. Chef Ari Taymor could easily have coasted on the accolades for his creative California cuisine. His downtown Los Angeles establishment Alma (www. alma-la.com) was named Bon Appetit's new restaurant of 2013, followed by a nod from Food & Wine's Best New Chefs roundup. He's won kudos not just for his seasonal dishes, but also because much of his produce is hyperlocal, sourced from a Venice Beach farmer. However, it was co-owner and partner Ashleigh Parsons who really connected Alma with its downtown community. rough the restaurant's nonprofit arm, Alma Community Outreach, volunteers teach cooking and nutrition in three public schools within a five-mile radius of the restaurant. "I had a vision that we could make change in terms of food policy and food justice," says Parsons. "In restaurants we have a wealth of resources at our fingertips; people who know about food, cooking and—in our case—gardening." Parsons, who has a background in education and research, credits Alice Waters' Edible Schoolyard Project as her inspiration. Volunteers work with low-income students from farm to plate, including harvesting produce, shopping at farmers markets, and making dishes that can be easily recreated, even with limited resources. From inside the kitchen, Taymor admits that, as a chef, spare time is oen a hard-to-come-by commodity. "If it were just me on my own it would never happen, but this was something I always wanted to be a part of our restaurant," he says. "Cooks and chefs tend to be very passionate people, so if we find something that speaks to us, we can use that intensity to push it forward." D ebbie Shore, cofounder of Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry (www.nokidhungry.org), explains that chefs have always played a critical role in the organization's decades-long campaign to fight childhood hunger. "We realized early that since chefs feed people for a living, feeding hungry kids would resonate with them as well," says Shore. "Chefs understand By Sarika Chawla Top L.A. Chefs Turn Up the Heat Rather than simmer in their success, some kitchen maestros focus on giving back W W 22 wholelifetimesmagazine.com photo: photo by Lani Trock

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