Cheeky sat down with Chef Mario Batali, our Chief Culinary Ambassador, to talk about his long string of commitments to fighting hunger and the future of social impact. As an advocate and philanthropist, Batali serves on the board of the Food Bank for New York City, belongs to the entertainment council for Feeding America, and supports the Lunchbox fund in South Africa (to name a few!). We’re thrilled he’s decided to join the Cheeky family.
Q: Why is hunger an important issue to you?
A: Being that my livelihood is feeding people, the idea that some people can’t be fed is something that perplexes me, particularly in the richest time of all time. Hunger relief is something that is well within our reach and worthy of spending a lot of time on. I am very interested in what we can give back to the right place. So, hunger relief is one of the essential goals in my life.
Q: When did you first get involved?
A: I have been working on hunger relief as a social cause since I got to New York. I began focusing on hunger relief once I opened my very first restaurant, and had the capability to identify and direct funds to helping relieve hunger. Everyday we cook and we think of the luxurious component of how nutrition meets entertainment, but fundamentally the nutrition is the factor that really becomes the most important thing and often cooks can lose that perspective. When you are able to give back it becomes very clear again what the original cause that you got into was for.
Q: Why partner with Cheeky?
A: I am joining with Cheeky because it is an easy and fun way to meet a whole mess of people who probably haven’t realized how simple it would be to give back. Cheeky makes it a lot of fun! If you are going to throw a party or have a picnic, or anything in fun realm, every time you buy a package of Cheeky product you provide one meal. It’s a direct correlation that makes it a blast, and makes you feel good!
Q: This is the first time you’ve combined your business acumen and charity work. What do you think about this trend in continuous consumerism?
A: It’s strange because when I was growing up, charity was something that was very abstract. At this point when my children buy new products, they look to see exactly which product is doing something beyond just selling you their product. Social giveback is an essential part of the plan and there is nothing that can replace it. It is a two-way street that makes everyone feel good.
Q: What do you hope to achieve with Cheeky and Feeding America?
A: Well the obvious goal with Cheeky and Feeding America is to eradicate hunger. The eradication of hunger is an investment into the future of the world, and even the country, and even the state where you are. It is not just this macro thing. It starts exactly where you are, and it will have direct and immediate effect on the goodness and quality of peoples’ lives and our greatness as a nation.