Celebrity chef and social entrepreneur Silvia Baldini sat down with Grace Farms Foods Co-Founder Adam Thatcher to talk food, sustainability, and giving back.
Adam: What brought you to Grace Farms and keeps you coming back?
Silvia: On my first visit to Grace Farms, my family and I dove in to the lush and peaceful grounds, the sprawling meadows, I admired the wood, steel and glass River building that stretches like an elegant ribbon across the grass mimicking a curvy river. While my children explored the trails, I discovered a place of true beauty, and I felt a sense a peace. I returned for a community dinner and Justice program and was moved by the impactful work Grace Farms pursues.
Adam: What is it about food that you love the most?
Silvia: I get asked this question a lot. I love food for so many reasons. First and for most I like to eat. No shame in that. But mostly I think food brings people together.
Cooking a loving meal not only nourishes the bellies of a family, but it also restores the soul. Few moments are as special as breaking bread together with others…. Food is powerful. It brings unity, it shapes our memories, and it empowers our communities.
Shared meals have a bigger effect on us than simply satiating our hunger. Eating the same food builds trust, dining together builds relationships, and cooking good food builds communities that are second to none.
Adam: You mentioned ‘community’. What does community mean to you?
Silvia: Community is the backbone of our society. Since I’m a chef and I love food and I love to cook, that’s where most of my community building happens. I think the key is finding whatever way of being involved and active in your community that best suits you so that you don’t just show up, you keep showing up. I believe in the power and strength of a people coming together and I also believe that cooking and sharing family recipes from our kitchens and our hearts is the secret to a strong and loving community.
Adam: Time and time again you share with the community, donating your time and cooking to countless not-for-profit organizations, why?
Silvia: I believe it’s important to find a bit more meaning in the things you already love to do and just keep doing them. Using our skills helps us drive change. In the end I can spend my life making cookies and cakes for gluttons or I can choose to cook and use food to start difficult conversations and make a difference. It makes me proud to know I have helped someone with my knowledge in the kitchen.
Adam: You’ve been our partner in sharing Grace Farms and helped to create our signature chocolate chip cookie, what makes this cookie greater?
Silvia: The Grace Farms chocolate chips cookie has been a project of love. We knew we wanted something special not only in taste but in meaning.
We carefully searched the four corners of the world and our local community for the highest quality ingredients. We searched because we wanted the best tasting chocolate, vanilla, sugars, and flour but most importantly we wanted every ingredient to be ethically sourced, fair trade and slave free. I have learned so much through this process and while our world as a long way to go when it comes to transparency and fair and equitable sourcing, I think we succeeded in creating something exceptional and true to our mission and values.
Adam: What excites you about partnering with Grace Farms most?
I’m incredibly honored and excited to partner with Grace Farms because I believe we share the same vision. As I mentioned before we not only make an excellent cookie, but we put the spotlight on our food sources, we open the discussion on the political and social impact of food production, and on how to find local sources of food that are grown or raised responsibly.
I also think there is so much potential and talent in the team. Working with Adam, Dean and Sharon has been cathartic, motivating and just very fun.
Adam: What’s next?
Silvia: Next is a fun word. It denotes possibilities and new adventure. I enjoy that.
We are working on perfecting our gluten free cookie and we are experimenting in the kitchen to find more delicious cookies to add to the Grace Farms Foods line.
Adam: If you could cook from only one cookbook for eternity, what book would it be?
Silvia: Adam that’s a no questions. I have hundreds of cookbooks in my collection. I love all of them. I cannot pick one for eternity. I’m sure even on the other side I will find a library or a bookstore and hopefully no TikTok.
Adam: What is your favorite travel destination?
Silvia: My favorite travel destination is where I have not been yet. I’m a nomad and I’m always ready to go, explore and learn.
Adam: If you could have coffee and cookies any person in the world, who would it be?
Silvia: I would have coffee and cookies with anybody hungry for good food and for new ideas. Also, the guys from Maneskin ….it would be fun.
Adam: What advice would you give to an aspiring chef who wants to make a positive impact in their community?
Silvia: Chefs have a lot to give to the community. We have skills that can concretely improve people lives in many ways. We often forget that hunger and food insecurity are a reality in United States. Healthy meals missing from food insecure households last year added up 242 million. I’m personally committed not just to securing better meals for people, but to dismantle the very structures that have long exploited both workers and consumers.
Chef activism can exists at every point in the food supply chain: how it’s produced—unsustainable farming practices; unsafe working conditions and exploitation of undocumented immigrants and prison labor; abuse of animals, who gets to produce it and how it’s sold— racial and gender disparities in lending and investment; the corporate advantage of scale; misrepresentation and erasure of minority cultures, and finally who gets it: poverty and hunger; neighborhoods lacking access to fresh, healthy food; moralizing over how food stamps are used.
Adam: Last question, what excites you most about the future?
Silvia: The future is what gives me energy. I’m always looking up to see what’s next. Each new day brings a new challenge and new idea.