Hi there. I’m Stephen Chesterfield (or, as I say in my Instagram bio and must continually emphasize, “the other Stephen Chesterfield, not of Miller Union/Root to Leaf fame). Pleasure to meet you. I’m here because KCTV.LIVE has graciously offered their digital space for me to share with you a specially tailored smattering of food writings.
This may be a good time to qualify myself. I fell deeply in love with cooking and dining and entertaining in high school. I was a big fan of Martha Stewart. I still am. I always admired her diverse imprint on food culture: Cooking, entertaining, decor, and a global media enterprise. There’s an entire essay worth of things I could say, but, to say she made a big impression suffices. So too did watching and mimicking Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, first from television, then later on, from books. Thankfully, my young brain was instinctively interpreting the cornerstone of good living to be eating and drinking well, and among cherished company.
I enrolled in culinary school in Portland, Oregon at age 19. That was in 2004. The Portland of that era was not dissimilar to today’s, and the immensely well-earned reputation as one of the best food (and drink) cities in our country has rightly amplified. I often think of my time there as part of a foundation generation for the currents explosion, but it’s possible I’m inflating my contribution. I’ve taken the lessons I learned in Portland—namely its fastidiousness in sourcing ingredients—with me along the way in my career: First as a restaurant operator and educator, and eventually, today, as a multimedia producer, culminating with a magazine called Whetstone that has been in production for a few years.
Over the past decade, I’ve watched the food world around me and America in general mature its relationship to food as I have. Perhaps with less zeal than myself, but steadily. One of the biggest changes has been the gradual morphing of chef and/or hospitality professional into civic leader. Willingly or reluctantly, restaurateurs are critical voices for the issues within or spilling outside of the sustainable food movement, from immigration advocacy and compliance to climate change.
I’m interested in conversations about the things we should discuss more in food: equity, justice, provenance. I hope to explore these larger themes through my writing on KCTV.LIVE, in stories about topics like transparency and accountability in seafood and regenerative agriculture. If there was just one thing I’d say that best summarizes my work, it’s that I try to persuade people that industrialized food, like industry more broadly, is inherently opposed to a healthy planet and populace; that the detached efficiencies of industrial production, distribution, and retail has been placed ahead of Earth and its people. And no matter your politics, upending that system in favor of rebuilding and renewing transparent, local food ways should be a nonpartisan concern.