Breaking Bread: A Fresh Look at Virtual Diplomacy
May 7, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has tried to pull us apart, knead us to our breaking point, but we cannot let it stop us from “breaking bread” with people from different cultures. With the rise of Asian hate crimes across the U.S., increase in Black Lives Matter protests, and a growth in misunderstanding between communities, it is crucial that we facilitate online avenues for cultural exchanges to take place during this time. Gathering around a meal, playing a team sport or collaborating on a project are all comfortable atmospheres for people to meet one another, but what happens when everyone around the world cannot gather in person? This event aimed to explore how we can bring people together around food, competitions and collaborations in the virtual sphere. We need people-to-people diplomacy now more than ever.
NYU DC Dialogues hosted a discussion with Ambassador Capricia Marshall and Smithsonian Folklife Festival Director Sabrina Lynn Motley moderated by NYU DC Student Christina Bowllan. There was a short pre-recorded video introduction by Chef Maneet Chauhan.
Christina Bowllan, NYU Shanghai Student (Moderator)
Christina Bowllan is a junior from NYU Shanghai majoring in Political Science with a minor in Chinese language. This spring semester, Christina is based at NYU’s Washington, DC site as a participant in the Global Leadership Program, where she serves on the Executive Board of DC Dialogues, a student-engaged initiative created to introduce the NYU DC community to key discussions on politics, culture, business, environment, education, and more. Christina’s studies in China and travels across Asia sparked her interest in U.S.-China relations, diplomatic initiatives, and journalism. She currently interns in the office of the Director of Culture as Diplomacy at the Asia Society. Her in-depth research on governmental, public and cultural diplomacy led to her creation of a virtual cooking competition, “Breaking Bread,” that promotes a new form of virtual diplomacy allowing diverse collaborators to come together around a universal interest: food. For the same project, she moderated a conversation through DC Dialogues on the topic of diplomacy within the virtual realm.
Christina aspires to pursue a career in journalism and will intern with the CNN New York News Bureau in the summer of 2021. When Christina is not busy moderating events or learning how to edit videos, she is running a self-started online Chinese tutoring business, which teaches children ages 3-15 about Chinese culture, language and geography.
Maneet Chauhan, Chef
Maneet Chauhan's passion for all things culinary started at an extremely young age. Seemingly born with a ladle in her hand, she started her culinary "journey" in her homeland of India, where she graduated at the top of her class at the Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration, India's top culinary and hotel management school. After interning at India's finest hotels and kitchens, including names like the Taj Group, Oberoi Hotels and Le Meridien, it was off to the U.S., where she attended The Culinary Institute of America and graduated with high honors, sweeping all awards in her class.
After some valuable fine-dining field experience on the East Coast, it was time to conquer Chicago. This task began with her being the only woman to go up against 40 male chefs for an executive chef position. Once again successful, Chef Chauhan was ultimately the opening chef of Vermilion restaurant. As executive chef of Vermilion, she was at the helm of executing the Indian-Latin cuisine developed by Rohini Dey and her kitchen teams in New York and Chicago. With Chef Chauhan at the helm, the restaurant earned many accolades, including Chicago magazine's Best New Restaurant, Esquire's Restaurant of the Month and Wine Enthusiast's Best New Restaurant in the U.S. Vermilion then set its sights on New York City and launched an equally impressive outpost in the heart of Manhattan. Soon after its doors opened, Chef Chauhan was nominated as the Best Import to New York by Time Out magazine.
During her tenure with these landmark restaurants, they received exceptional reviews from Bon Appétit, USA Today, Time, Esquire, Travel & Leisure, Gourmet, Town & Country, Business Week and O, The Oprah Magazine, as well as getting a stunning three-star review from the Chicago Tribune.
After eight years of leading the kitchens of Vermilion in both New York City and Chicago, Chef Chauhan ventured out on her own and founded Indie Culinaire, an avant-garde culinary and hospitality company. In a short period of time, she has established herself as an honorary figure and a leading volunteer for prestigious culinary schools, industry events and premier nonprofit foundations. After being the only Indian female ever to compete on Iron Chef and a fierce competitor on The Next Iron Chef, Chef Chauhan is now a full-time judge on the Food Network hit show Chopped, which has been nominated for a Critics' Choice Award and granted Chef Chauhan the honor of receiving the prestigious James Beard Award of Excellence.
Along with Chopped, Chef Chauhan has established herself as a go-to figure when it comes to Indian cuisine and spices, as evidenced by being invited to teach the multinational audience of ABC's The View how to cook Indian food. Additionally, Chef Chauhan was chosen as the only chef to cook at the first-ever Indiaspora Inaugural Ball, honoring the re-election of President Barack Obama.
A big supporter of culinary education, Chef Chauhan credits her success to the solid culinary foundation she received at the Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration, India, and the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park. She was recently honored by an invitation back to the CIA campus as the commencement speaker. She also received recognition of Distinguished Service to the Foodservice and Hospitality Industry as the ambassador of the Culinary Institute of America. She is constantly mentoring new graduates and is involved with the educational arm of the National Restaurant Association's ProStart program, which educates high school students in the areas of hospitality and culinary arts, giving them "real life" skills and encouraging the culinary world as a career.
An active supporter of various charities such as CRY (Child Rights and You) and P.A.V.E. (Partnerships for Action, Voices for Empowerment), ProStart, Chef Chauhan is highly devoted to giving back to the community that has given her so much. Recently she has provided her culinary skills to cook at the prestigious Chef's Garden, Guggenheim Museum, Willie Mae Rock Camp and many more.
In 2014, she opened Chauhan Ale & Masala House in Nashville, Tenn. Her first cookbook, Flavors of My World, was released in 2013. She is currently developing a signature spice line and hard at work on another cookbook, and her ongoing research, trials, travels and zest for experimentation keep her at the forefront of cutting-edge cuisine. Her energy and creativity, combined with polished culinary skills and the courage to follow her passion, have proved to be the right ingredients for success.
Chef Chauhan currently resides in New York City with her husband and her daughter.
Ambassador Capricia Penavic Marshall
Capricia Marshall is president of Global Engagement Strategies, LLC, which advises international, public, and private clients on issues relating to the nexus of business and cultural diplomacy. Her clients include Bloomberg, 3M, and other Fortune 100 companies. As a first-generation American, she has brought an understanding of the importance of culture to her posts and consultations. She travels across the country speaking to organizations and corporations about her experiences, lessons she has learned throughout her career in public service, and how best to integrate cultural diplomacy into business.
Marshall is currently Ambassador-in-Residence at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC. She recently launched her book Protocol, The Power of Diplomacy and How to Make it Work for You. Sharing unvarnished examples from her time in office, she presents a master class in soft power and an accessible guide for anyone who wants to be empowered by the tools of diplomacy in work and everyday life.
Marshall served as White House social secretary in the Clinton Administration from 1997-2001 and United States chief of protocol in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2013. In her posts, she enhanced traditional protocol methods with new tools to build relationships between dignitaries and industry leaders world-wide. She oversaw the diplomatic details of multiple state visits, G20 and G8 convenings, presidential inaugurations and summits such as the Nuclear Security summit, APEC, NATO and Sunnylands summits.
Marshall is a first-generation American of Croatian and Mexican descent. In 2013, she was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the Secretary of State and the Order of the Cross of Isabel La Católica from the Ambassador of Spain. She is a member of the Council of American Ambassadors. She has been named to ELLE magazine's annual “Washington Power List,” as one of DC’s most influential women. Ms Marshall is currently serves on the boards of the Case Western University International Advisory Board, The Strategic Planning Board, The Blair House Restoration Fund and The Council of American Ambassadors.
Sabrina Lynn Motley, Director, Smithsonian Folklife Festival at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Sabrina Lynn Motley joined the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH) in 2013 as director of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. During her tenure, she has expanded research and explored new forms of festival making. Prior to her appointment, she was senior director of programs and exhibitions at Asia Society Texas Center. In addition to public engagement and education, she oversaw several exhibitions highlighting Houston’s changing demographics and its expanding role as a major North American gateway to Asia. Before joining the Texas Center, Sabrina was Vice President of the San Francisco-based, social justice foundation Vesper Society and was program and education director at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM). At both Asia Society and JANM, she complemented her programming work by playing significant roles in the completion and opening of mid-sized performing arts venues.
As an independent consultant, Sabrina has produced public programs for the J. Paul Getty Museum, curated community-based exhibitions for clients such as the California Endowment and California State University-Northridge, and served as an advisor for several leading arts non-profits. While at the J. Paul Getty Museum she was offered a spot on KPFK 90.7 FM’s flagship world music program, “The Global Village.” There, she conducted content research on a diverse range of traditional artists and genres, produced interviews with musicians and community members, and curated playlists, all of which amplified Pacifica Radio’s goal of supporting the “creative skills and energies of the community.”
Sabrina earned a B.A. in world arts and cultures and an M.A. in African studies, both from UCLA. Currently, she is a doctoral candidate in anthropology at UCLA. Her dissertation research explores the interplay between religious faith, doubt, and social activism.
DC Dialogues is a student-led initiative created to engage the NYU DC community in key discussions on politics, culture, business, environment, education – and more. Through active participation from the student body, DC Dialogues will convene prominent experts of various perspectives to discuss matters most captivating to students.