August 19, 2011
Chef Thom England: How ideas can transform a community

Each month, we ask an Indiana Humanities friend or partner how they think, read and talk. We feature that someone in the “How do you identify with the humanities” section of our e-newsletter. This month, it’s Chef Thom England. Thom is a professional chef, food writer, educator and mentor and has shared his expertise with many aspiring and seasoned chefs for over 20 years. He currently serves as chef instructor for the Ivy Tech Hospitality and Culinary Arts program.  Additionally, he is active in the community as a local foods activist, co-founder of Dig-IN.  Dig-IN is a not for profit dedicated to the promotion of Indiana food and agriculture.

Think – One should always look around them and think about what is really happening.  Often times we pass through life, instead of experiencing life.

Read – Reading is a great tool that can be a mechanism for change.  Reading gives people an opportunity to learn and grow.

Talk – Talk to others about what you are seeing and reading.  This socialization of ideas breeds growth in the community.

Born and raised in Northern Indiana, Chef England trained in New York at the Culinary Institute of America.  He spent much of his professional career in New York as well as in Central Indiana.  He is an ACF Certified Executive Chef (CEC) and Certified Food Service Educator.  He has been an avid local foods traveler, studying food and culture in 43 states and six countries. 

In 2008, Thom had the opportunity to talk with other community leaders about the Indiana food culture.  This socialization led to the development of Dig-IN.  This organization helps teach people about food that is grown and made in Indiana.  A 2008 study showed that if just half of Hoosier families spent $6.25 per week for food grown in Indiana it would make an immediate $300 million impact on the state.  And because monies spent on local food are re-spent with local people three to five times over, that $6.25 has the potential to make a $1.5 billion impact on Indiana.

Dig-IN’s premier event is a festival held the last Sunday in August.  Dig-IN is a celebration of everything farm-to-fork, bringing together farmers and chefs from around the state to provide tastes of local food.  The event also features Indiana wine makers, brewers and food artisans in a convivial atmosphere of music and conversation.  More information about the event on August 28, 2011 can be found at www.digindiana.org.

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