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What’s a Certified Master Chef Doing at Campbell Soup Company?

By: Chef Thomas Griffiths, Lead Chef and VP Campbell’s Global Culinary Institute

 

Over the years, I’ve cooked for everyone from Boy Scouts and Diana Ross to former President Richard Nixon and Italian opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti. I’ve worked at one of our country’s top restaurants, taught at our leading culinary academy, earned the title of Certified Master Chef, and even scored Culinary Olympic gold medals for my work. Not bad for a Jersey kid from whose lack of interest in academics and athletics seemed like a pretty big hurdle to finding a solid career!

 

Now that I’m helping Campbell develop our delicious foods, I’m often asked why I would switch from the culinary world, where I found my passion, to the corporate arena, which sounds so impersonal. But to me, it’s very personal.

 

Me (middle) posing for a picture with two culinary students from Cathedral Kitchen in Camden, N.J. It’s important to me (and to Campbell) to give back to the community.

 

I began talking with the people at Campbell almost eight years ago, and I realized I could feed millions of people, help fight childhood obesity and malnutrition, make a bigger difference and leave a much greater legacy than I could as an instructor or chef.

 

At the end of the day, it’s about making real food accessible to everyone.

 

My friend Mark Alexander, President of Campbell’s Americas portfolio, recently shared our purpose and real food philosophy with culinary professionals who gathered in Napa Valley for reThink Food, a powerful collaboration between The Culinary Institute of America, where I taught for several years, and MIT Media Lab. The program brought together food industry thought leaders and innovators to address how, what and why we cook and eat the way we do today, as well as where we’re heading.

The founders of Campbell’s iconic brands were doing the same thing in their time — Dr. John T. Dorrance, who put condensed soup in a can almost 150 years ago; Pepperidge Farm’s Margaret Rudkin, whose son inspired her to bake breads in her own hearth; and William Arnott, who launched a beloved line of Australian biscuits; They all believed in making the goodness of their foods available, accessible, and affordable to all.

That spirit is in the DNA of every chef, and the unique opportunity to lead our culinary efforts to define the future of real food and become the world’s leading health and well-being food company – it’s a chef’s dream come true.

 

We’re closing the gap between the warmth and intimacy of the chef’s kitchen and putting food on the tables of millions of people.

 

My chefs and I work to source food more carefully to ensure not only the best quality and safety, but also the best flavors and textures for the most healthful, delicious and affordable foods. It’s been gratifying to see our culinary love and lexicon spread throughout the company. Having marketers and others talking comfortably about things such as mirepoix and onion brulée is a real competitive advantage.

One of the foresights we uncovered is what we call Limitless Local, which to a gardener like me is as real as food can be. I love working with our agricultural team to talk to local farmers in Maine, Ohio or New Jersey, and university professors who focus on new ways to grow better-tasting ingredients we can use in our foods.

 

So what’s a Certified Master Chef doing at Campbell? It’s easy.

 

My entire culinary journey, indeed, my entire lifetime, has prepared me to do something meaningful with my craft. I’m honored to be Campbell’s “Chef Tom”, and I’m honored to have a hand in providing people around the world with delicious, nutritious food

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