Today marks the kickoff of Expo Milano 2015, the world’s fair whose theme is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” What that looks like—besides conferences, events, and a mascot named Foody—will be individual pavilions for individual countries, the USA version of which has been produced by the James Beard Foundation and will feature the world’s largest vertical farm.
The U.S. presence there further includes the James Beard American Restaurant, to feature the cooking of a rotating stable of American culinary notables from Chicago’s Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill and others) to San Francisco’s Traci des Jardins (Jardiniere). Our culinary rival to the south features not one but two of its top chefs: Cathy Whims (Nostrana) and Naomi Pomeroy (Beast).
Seattle will be represented by one—the woman who would say this: “This is worth talking about—it’s about sustainability, gardening, farming, urban spaces!” she enthuses. “People understand that we are having a major food crisis globally…there’s a lot of shit to fix, and World Expos are where things get invented! The lightbulb! So the fact that they’re focusing this one on food is really refreshing and really hopeful.”
Yes, that refreshingly hopeful voice belongs to none other than Maria Hines—owner and chef of the certified-organic restaurants Tilth, Golden Beetle, and Agrodolce—who will cook at the James Beard American Restaurant in Milan June 2 & 3. After that, she’s headed to Brussels at the behest of the State Department to educate Europeans on organic and farm-to-table dining. “They think Americans are all about agribusiness," she says.
Not all Americans, they're about to learn.