Common Threads' World Festival

Common Threads' World Festival

Thu 10 Apr 2014

Story by Linda NovickOkeefe

Since the national conversation surrounding childhood obesity began years ago, people from various backgrounds have all agreed that health education is critical in reversing health trends in the nation's younger generation.

Chef Art Smith, artist Jesus Salgueiro and I responded to this need for better education, specifically in underserved communities, in 2003 and founded Common Threads. Originated on the idea that good, healthy food and the ability to share that food with loved ones is something that unites all the people of the world together, Common Threads hosted its first cooking class in a church basement to just a few students and the rest is history. In the last 10 years, Common Threads has grown into a national nonprofit organization that is committed to educating communities about healthy food choices through hands-on experiences.

Nearly 16 million children in the US face hunger, and Common Threads not only helps feed these children, but provides them with a fundamental cooking skill set that they will carry with themselves throughout their lives. Participants in Common Threads programs leave the kitchen with the ability to prepare wholesome food themselves, instead of having to turn to fast-food options and processed, ready to eat goods.

Offering a variety of in-school nutrition programs and after-school cooking classes, Common Threads has over 350 programs in over 100 schools around Chicago, Miami, Washington, DC and Los Angeles. Ever expanding, Common Threads plans to be in 125 schools by the end of 2014. To aid and support in this expansion throughout the country, Common Threads and their various culinary supporters team up yearly to host their annual signature event, World Festival.

This year, Common Threads will be hosting World Festival in the nation's capital on April 24 from 6:00PM - 9:00PM at The Liaison Capitol Hill. Over 20 of the nation's best chefs will prepare ethnically inspired small bites for over 200 guests who will also get to sample clever cocktails from various mixologists and bid on enticing items silent auction items such as the opportunity to spend a day fishing with participating chef, and James Beard nominee, Chef Bun Lai.

Using Common Threads' core after-school program, Cooking Skills & World Cuisine, as their inspiration, participating chefs were asked to use their imagination, just as Common Threads students do, to "travel" to a different country, far outside their neighborhood and prepare a healthy recipe indigenous to a specific country. The result will be incredible dishes such as Vietnamese Green Papaya Salad with calamari, crispy peanuts, pickled fresno chills, Peruvian Style Ceviche with lime, chilies, red onion sweet potato and popcorn, and Duck Confit Kofta with Orange Chili Cilantro Chutney.

100% of proceeds raised throughout the evening will support Common Threads work that is more important than ever. The kitchen can be used as a catalyst for change and by gaining serious culinary skills and a taste for healthy foods, participants in Common Threads' programs gain the confidence to make healthy selections in and outside of the kitchen.

Common Threads programs give participants something every individual is entitled to, the tools to lead healthier lives. Join us on April 24!


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