Culinary Diplomacy Brings International Chefs to Marquette

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email

Hiba Osman says her French-style pastry shop she started in Sudan ten years ago has since grown to include food and drink from all over Europe and beyond.

"It's the whole world in just a plate of food, right next to your home," she says.

Osman may be adding some American options as she and five other chefs from all over the world are tasting parts of the United States during a culinary diplomacy mission through the US State Department's International Visitor Program.

They also got to try Nebraska foods during a stop at Creative Cuisine Catering owner Fayne Petersen's Chez Fayne in Marquette.

"My philosophy for all the catering I do is to try and use as much locally grown and sustainable food as I can," says Petersen.

That meant serving up grass-fed beef from a Marquette ranch, locally grown vegetables, and Jonathan apples from Nebraska City.

The visiting chefs say the cuisine and the community have left a lasting impression.

"Every place here reminds me of home and this is a very good feeling," says Osman.

Though this is the first culinary diplomacy program for the State Department, its participants deem it a success.

"There's no better way to reach and bridge cultures than through food because that identifies who you are," says Andrew George, a chef instructor from British Columbia.

"We all eat and we all are nourished by what we eat and I think when we feel passionately about how we cook and what we feed people, it touches a deeper part of who we are and helps us connect with each other," says Petersen.

The visiting chefs say another highlight of their trip was the time they were able to spend in some central Nebraska schools where they prepared dishes with students and met with FFA members.

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