March 6th, 2014
01:00 PM ET
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Chefs with Issues is a platform for chefs and farmers we love, fired up for causes about which they're passionate. Josh Grinker is the executive chef at Stone Park restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. He has previously written about five things chefs don't want you to know.

The New York City Department of Health has outdone itself by giving a "C" health inspection grade to Per Se, one of the finest - and most expensive - restaurants in the world, because of violations of the department's arbitrary and punitive letter-grading program.

The grading system and presence of grade cards in the window, required since July 2010, “provides diners with easily interpretable information" and "gives restaurants the incentive to maintain the highest food safety practices," according to Thomas Farley, the former Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

While clarity and food safety are certainly laudable goals, consumers should realize that these "A," "B" and "C" letters are poor indicators of a restaurant’s cleanliness and the quality of its operation.

Opinion: SNAP isn't about a 'free lunch'
November 11th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
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On November 12, Dr. Sanjay Gupta hosts CNN Dialogues, focusing on the issues of food security and food deserts in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the nearly 16 million children who spend their days and nights hungry. Learn more about the series here. Panelist Hugh Acheson is the chef/partner of Five & Ten and The National in Athens, Georgia and Empire State South in Atlanta, Georgia as well as a judge on the current season on Top Chef, and author of "A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen."

Today is Veterans Day and I would like to thank my grandfather for his sacrifice. I don’t think he was fighting for his individual rights when he lost his life during World War II, riding in a jeep far into enemy territory in Occupied France. He was fighting for a greater idea of freedom that defines modern democracies, a collective freedom that allows us individual liberty. First we succeed together, which gives us the allowance to succeed as individuals.

When we build a society, as we continue to do every day, we need to think of everyone. Success for the lower and middle class in recent years has been made difficult to attain as the American dream has become an elusive goal. Stacked against success are many pitfalls that seem to keep the poor, well, poor. High interest rate loans, lack of viable employment, housing-market collapses: all of these things have not only kept people from rising out of poverty but have driven more people into it.

The poverty rate for children in my state of Georgia is 26%, a figure that makes me queasy. Cuts to programs to assist those in need make me angry. It’s a divisive issue but I prefer to be on the side of trying to help those in need. I just firmly believe in this statement: We are better off as a country when all of our kids have access to nutritious food.

So you want to marry a chef...
August 7th, 2013
06:45 PM ET
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Editor's note: Amelia Zatik Sawyer blogs at and runs #teamsawyer with her husband, chef Jonathon Sawyer, their two children, plenty of animals and a slew of restaurants in Cleveland, Ohio. She'd like to clear up a few myths about dating - and marrying - a chef.

When most people learn that I am married to a chef, they automatically assume that I eat well and spend my nights alone. This is almost accurate.

When The Chef is home, he has a special talent of taking half-eaten food and turning it into a masterpiece. Due to his enormous work schedule, I only get to experience the beauty of his talent once a month.

Some also assume chefs are notorious cheaters, binge drinkers, or worse. While I have met a few chefs who have "festival girlfriends" and know more than my fair share of partying cooks, the reality of working in a real kitchen weeds out this behavior pretty quickly. Working 90-hour weeks with a hangover doesn’t cut it in a kitchen.

Chefs with Issues: The politics of restaurant reservations
July 8th, 2013
08:00 AM ET
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Editor's Note: Kelly English is the chef/owner of Restaurant Iris in Memphis, Tennessee. English was named one of Food & Wine magazine's Best New Chefs in 2009. In 2010, he was named a James Beard Award Semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast.

At three o'clock on a Friday afternoon, like clockwork, my phone starts to ring. It is one of my friends from college; he forgot his anniversary and needs a table tonight. I am forced to tell him one of my least favorite things: No. It's not in a chef's DNA to tell people "no" - we hire front-of-house people for that.

“We have known each other for years, you must be able to put me somewhere,” he said.

I really wish I could.

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