Chef Michel Nischan makes us happy and is someone that we look up to in so many ways. He worked with Paul Newman to create the legendary Dressing Room in Westport that was one of Connecticut’s first farm-to-table restaurants. His cooking and approach to food helped to show that local was not only better for the community, but could also taste better. Along with his love of all things local came a movement that would soon become the major focus of his life: sustainability.
Nischan would go on to become CEO of Wholesome Wave which is an organization that helps to not only bring awareness of sustainability here in America, but to also help to bring it into practice. Through his leadership and guidance, Wholesome Wave has helped make a tremendous impact in communities with economic disparity. One way that he and his organization made an impact is by supporting legislation that would allow people to use food stamps to purchase larger amounts of food at farmers’ markets. The Double Value Coupon Program is just one way that Wholesome Wave would help bring equality to the food market while helping the local community and farmers as was their Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program.
In addition, we have written about Michel’s groundbreaking work with Whole Foods Markets across the country. By working side by side, Michel and Wholesome Wave were able to facilitate a brand new approach for Whole Foods Markets seafood departments. As a result of this collaboration, Whole Foods stopped selling seafood that was not sustainable and that had an adverse impact on the environment. And, in place of the fish they stopped selling, they began to feature healthier, easier to procure, and more sustainable seafood choices.
It’s for this work, and more that we couldn’t even possibly list here, that Michel Nischan has been named the 2015 Humanitarian of the Year by the James Beard Foundation. Michel will receive his award at The James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception at Lyric Opera in Chicago on May 4 along with many other chefs and people from the food industry including Richard Melma who is the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner.