7 Chefs Using Their Love of Food for Good

A culinary heavyweight get-to-know-you

Special Collections: WHAT'S ON YOUR PLATE


A chef at work.

(vectorfusionart / Shutterstock.com)

These days, chefs and cooks are making their way out of the kitchen and into the public eye. Culinarians now have a place of influence and shine under the limelight: they star in television shows, write bestsellers and own restuarants. In many cases, they are the ones setting trends in the one thing none of us can live without: food.
To navigate the world of renowned foodies, this list introduces seven of the most influential culinary masters who have used their love of food for good.


At 6’2 and in many senses - very goofy - the lanky Julia Child was an unlikely television star, but audiences adored her for her candid love of food, sharp sense humor and willingness to make mistakes – many times on live TV.
DID YOU KNOW: Child only started cooking at the age of 36 after becoming enamored with French food. She honed her skills at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
GOOD DOER EDGE:  In 1995 The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts was created to award grants to nonprofit organizations that promote the Foundation’s mission. The late Julia Child is fondly remembered as one of the pioneers of television cooking shows, encouraging cooking as an enjoyable experience for viewers, and paving the way for most of the chefs on this list.
SPECIALTY: French cuisine


British chef Jamie Oliver’s spunky and fun approach to cooking catapulted him into the limelight when in 1997 he was discovered after appearing in a documentary about the restaurant where he was a sous chef.
DID YOU KNOW: Known as the Naked Chef, Oliver does not cook in the nude, but does insist on on fresh, natural ingredients in his cooking.
GOOD DOER EDGE: Spreading his passion for healthy and nutritious food, the chef created the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation in 2002 to educate folks on what they eat. Activities include: training disadvantaged youth to work in the restaurant business, cooking instruction at local food centers and introducing healthy food into schools in both the UK and the USA. 
SPECIALTY: Italian cuisine


Organic food promoter Alice Waters is the chef of the famed California restaurant Chez Panisse and the author of 12 books.  
DID YOU KNOW: Alice Waters didn’t just jump on the bandwagon of organic food, but has been a leader of the green food movement for over 40 years.
GOOD DOER EDGE: To encourage organic food, Waters spearheads the Edible Schoolyard Project whose mission is to build and share an edible education curriculum for kids from kindergarten through high school. The nonprofit has invested in gardens and kitchens at schools around the US, and provides free organic lunches for students.
SPECIALTY: Organic American cuisine


The red-headed chef who heads up 14 restaurants  in the States and in Asia has jumped to television fame for his big personality and his love of Italian cooking.
DID YOU KNOW: Batali and actress Gwyneth Paltrow are close buds with a love for Spanish food and culture. The two teamed up for a PBS series – Spain on the Road Again – where they explored the gastronomical delights of España.   
GOOD DOER EDGE: Mario Batali is into giving back, and with his foundation that bears his name, he’s doing just that. The three-pronged focus of the Mario Batali Foundation zeroes in on feeding, educating and caring for kids. The Foundation supports literacy initiatives, pediatric disease research and food banks.
SPECIALTY: Italian cuisine


Chef Tal Ronnen is one of the most well-known vegan chefs, and his cookbook “The Conscious Cook” speaks to his style. Ronnen strives to make vegan food as tasty and mouthwatering as can be while providing everyday people with a variety of non-meat options.
DID YOU KNOW: Ronnen was exposed to a wider audience when in 2008 Oprah Winfrey tapped him to create the menu for her 21-day vegan cleanse. Since then, he’s catered the wedding of Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi, and prepared the first vegan dinner at the U.S. Senate.
GOOD DOER EDGE: In 2004, Ronnen founded the nonprofit education organization Veg Advantage that works with food-service operators to integrate vegetarian dishes into their menus.
SPECIALTY: Vegan cuisine


Austrian chef Wolfgang Puck has been in the game for awhile, and is a household name with over 100 restaurants worldwide, a catering business and food products.
DID YOU KNOW: Puck is considered the original celebrity chef - before that even became a term. He gained fanfare with his first fine dining Hollywood restaurant Spago. The man and the empire even have an iPhone app, with which users can search recipes, view video guides, and make restaurant reservations.
GOOD DOER EDGE: Puck’s program of WELL stands for Wolfgang’s Eat, Love, Live and promotes the consumption of locally produced food, humanely treated animals and organically grown food. An offshoot of WELL is Seafood Savvy, an initiative that educates the public about sustainability issues and responsible decisions when choosing fish and seafood.
SPECIALTY: American, Asian and European cuisine


A newcomer on the scene, Cat Cora jumped into the public eye after becoming the first female chef to win the coveted Iron Chef America title.
DID YOU KNOW: Cora was raised in Mississippi and comes from a Greek family. Her food is a fusion of old Southern cooking meets Grecian goodness.
GOOD DOER EDGE: Cora is the president and founder of Chefs for Humanity, a nonprofit that is modeled after Doctors Without Borders. Chefs for Humanity bring together the culinary community to tackle hunger relief, nutrition education and emergency disaster response.
SPECIALTY: American southern and Greek cuisine

Special Collection