What is the AIWF, and what is their mission?
The American Institute of Wine & Food is an organization with chapters
in 32 cities. It was founded 20 years ago by Julia Child, Robert Mondavi
and others to promote the understanding and appreciation of food and wine.
AIWF is unique because membership includes both food professionals and
interested consumers. The AIWF is dedicated to understanding and celebrating
the pleasures, benefits and traditions of table. About 400 food and wine
programs are held annually by chapters. One of our primary national programs
is "Days of Taste," a program that teaches children across America the
fundamentals of healthy food choices by providing tasting experiences
and lessons by farmers and chefs.
How big is the Chicago chapter, what local projects are you working
The Chicago chapter is the largest chapter, currently with 530 members.
Generally, the Chicago chapter provides three events per month. The next
event is a Farm Table Dinner featuring local produce. Other exciting upcoming
events include a program the "American Cheese Revolution" that will discussed
crafting of unique American cheeses and showcasing cheese menu items from
local chefs. In October, a program called "Carmen and Carmen" will be
a dinner showcasing Chile's venerable Carmen wines accompanied by excerpts
from Bizet's opera of the same name.
Does the AIWF have any scholarships?
AIWF proudly awards about $40,000. of scholarships annually. The scholarships
are awarded by chapters and some are matched by a grant from the Chalone
Wine Foundation. Some scholarships are for students pursuing culinary
and viniculture careers, while others are scholarships for chefs to take
continuing education courses.
Does the group take any political stand on food issues or remain impartial?
As a nonprofit organization we do not take stand on political issues.
We do, however, provide educational programs that provide a lively forum
for exchange of ideas on controversial food and wine issues.
What is the most interesting event you have done in the past year,
and what events do you have coming up?
One of the most interesting events of the past year was a Visionary
Panel where Julia Child, Robert Mondavi, Warren Winiarski and Marion Cunningham
each spoke about where the food and wine world were when they started
their careers and where they think it is going. It was a fascinating oral
history of wine and food in America by four living legends.
There are lots of interesting events in many chapters. The Dallas chapter
soon will be hosting a Caesar salad competition among 12 of Dallas's finest
chefs where attendees taste and select their favorite Caesar salad. Our
new visiting scholars program will send experts on taste, spices, tea,
mangoes and Chinese ingredients to chapters for special educational programs.
What are your duties as president?
As Chairman of the Board, the bylaws say that I will preside at meetings
of the board and executive committee, be the Chief Executive Officer of
the Institute and shall generally supervise, direct and control the business
and the officers of the Institute In reality, I work with our staff, chapter
leaders, committees, and board members to do the work the Institute. Working
with 32 chapters, each with elected leaders and differing community needs
and resources and providing the services they need to serve members is
quite a challenge.
What do you hope to accomplish in your term?
The two goals set by the Board of Directors for 2001-2002 are to increase
member services and satisfaction with AIWF and to increase revenues from
all sources. I am dedicated to meeting those goals. In addition, I want
to improve be policies and procedures of the organization, develop alliances
that will allow AIWF to become more recognized, and stronger and increase
the number of members and chapters.
What attracted you to the group?
Over a decade ago, the AIWF launched a Taste and Health initiative and
brought members of the health and food communities together in a series
of national meetings. At that time I was the President-elect of the American
Dietetic Association and took the position that food could be both healthy
and delicious if prepared well and eaten in moderate quantities. Through
this program I got to know many AIWF leaders and was asked to join the
Board of Directors.
How can one join the group?
Joining is really easy. Email [email protected]
or call 800-274-AIWF and ask for a member application. Joining the
national group automatically enrolls a new member into the chapter nearest
their home. Memberships begin at $75./year, only $40. for students. There
are dual memberships for couples and partners.
On a personal note, what is your message as a nutritionist to the
Understanding more about food allows each of us to make more informed
food choices that meet both our personal preferences and health needs.
Eating well immeasurably improves the quality of our lives and health.
Knowing how to cook is a basic life skill that we should have and pass
on to future generations. Eating well is more than just food and nutrients,
it must nourish body and soul.
What else on a personal note would you like to incorporate?
Lots of information about AIWF can be found on our Website www.aiwf.com.
We are the process of expanding the Website to include programs and activities
of all chapters. Joining and becoming active in The AIWF is a great way
to meet others who care about and enjoy quality food and wine at events
that are fun, interesting and educational. For chefs and food professionals,
membership provides access to food and wine opinion leaders in your community
and an opportunity to showcase your skills, restaurant or product.
MARY ABBOTT HESS, LHD, MS, RD, LD, FADA
A nationally recognized expert in food and nutrition communications, Mary
Abbott Hess is president of Hess & Hunt, Inc. The firm, based in Chicago,
provides consulting services to the food and health industries and government.
Hess currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American
Institute of Wine & Food