A U.S. ambassador is murdered, embassies are under siege, and Iran’s robed madmen are rattling their nuclear sabers again — and that’s just a teaspoon sampling of September’s global headlines. Meanwhile, in the same month, the State Department announced the formation of an elite 80-man unit that will function as a diplomatic weapon: the first American Chef Corps.
Capricia Marshall, U.S. chief of protocol, undauntedly assured Americans that the Corps (made up of celebrity chefs) is part of the continuing U.S. policy to use “every diplomatic tool at our disposal.”
Foreign leaders and dignitaries will be held sway by the soft-power food strategy? According to the Associated Press, the Chef Corps recently targeted British Prime Minister David Cameron with a meal of salmon, lentils, fennel, cauliflower and carrots. (The menu sounds eerily similar to nasty fare from the days of Richard Simmons’ Deal-A-Meal.) After the supper, Cameron probably sent out for a heaping plate of hot wings and a couple of pizzas.
The Washington Post says the Chef Corps unit will be unpaid, with funding coming from a combination of private and public sources. Good, no one should be paid to serve lentils and cauliflower.
The 80 members of the Chef Corps will have an exclusive uniform: Navy jackets sporting a U.S. flag, and each celebrity chef’s name embroidered in gold.
Can’t wait until Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi strolls into Washington, D.C., on a diplomatic trip: Will he be more influenced by navy jackets, gold embroidery and high cuisine — or by the $1.5 billion in annual U.S. foreign aid money?
What about Iran’s Ahmadinejad? Maybe sending him some celebrity chef-prepared cauliflower and carrots might convince him not to start Armageddon?
Or North Korea’s Kim Jong-un ? Maybe a little grilled broccoli would make him ease up on the piano wire and “reeducation” camps?
Forgive the cynicism, but the State Department is the one laying it on thick, “… by incorporating elements of our visitor's culture, we can demonstrate respect and a desire to connect and engage."
Just wait, next year some portly tribal king will show up for a White House dinner, wearing 10 pounds of medals he awarded himself (probably pinned to a navy jacket). He’ll be wined-and-dined by a fawning Chef Corps. You can be sure the menu will read something like this: “Roasted sole with raspberry glaze, deep charred authentic grilled bread and delicate ginger rice — garnished with a heaping side of foreign aid money guaranteed to choke a donkey. Bon appétit.”
Bon appétit, indeed.