Since 26 February 2007—a date worth celebrating—the AAR Kitchen has seen a remarkable transformation. It has to do with the vision of executive chef Mona Talbott, who has brought a mission to Academy dining. The new AAR website explains:
“The Rome Sustainable Food Project (RSFP) provides the community of the American Academy in Rome with a collaborative dining program that nourishes scholarship and conviviality. Guided by the indomitable spirit of the Roman table, it is our aim to construct a replicable model for sustainable dining in an institution.”
There’s a lot to this story, extending to the replanting of some formal gardens at the AAR to host patches of herbs, lettuces, and vegetables. You can read raves about the RSFP even as it stood in its earliest months here and here. Plus there is a must-read interview with Mona Talbott in the latest number of the SOF News (on which see below), where she discusses her experiences and influences, especially her long association with culinary icon Alice Waters.
This holiday season the Council of the Society of Fellows decided to support the efforts of the RSFP to foster better environmental practices within the Academy—and also to celebrate Rome’s free, abundant water supply.
So the SOF has donated 300 SIGG reusable aluminum drink bottles with the RSFP logo to the American Academy in Rome. On Christmas Eve the current class of Fellows plus Residents, Fellow Travelers, as well as the AAR Staff received these as holiday gifts; remaining SIGG bottles are on sale at the Academy to visitors and guests. The proceeds will be used to support the AAR Kitchen’s programs.
It was current Fellow Andrew J. Kranis who inspired the gift. A holder of a National Endowment for the Arts Rome Prize in Historic Preservation and Conservation, Kranis is a former designer for Whole Foods Market. His AAR project focuses on community ecology in the city, with a vigorous reimagination of the “green” potentiality of Rome’s thousands of piazze and their water fountains.
The bottle with logo is a collaboration between Kranis and AAR Trustee Michael Rock, FAAR’00, a founding partner in multidisciplinary creative firm 2×4, Inc.
Kranis explains that “these reusable bottles, made in Switzerland and printed locally in Italy, will help to reduce the waste generated from disposable beverage packaging and can be filled up at any of the city’s 4,500 public drinking fountains. They are made of durable, seamless aluminum that contains none of the harmful chemicals found in polycarbonate plastic water bottles. SIGG’s patented liner is taste and scent neutral and resistant to fruit juice acids, so the bottles can be used for any beverage.”
In the Winter 2008 edition of the Society of Fellows News, editor James Bodnar FAAR’80 interviews Mona Talbott about the genesis and development of the Rome Sustainable Food Project. There Talbott explains: “By providing food that’s nutritious, delicious and inexpensive, we can support the mission of the Academy. People can come to meals and bring their friends, or residents can come and sit for a long time at the table, shelling beans and sharing ideas, and that’s our goal. We really want to integrate ourselves more and more into the Academy.”
For more information on the Rome Sustainable Food Program, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured above, 29 October 2008 in Rome: R. William Franklin , AAR Associate Director for External Affairs; food luminary Alice Waters, founder of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse Restaurant; Christopher Boswell , RSFP Sous Chef; and Mona Talbott , RSFP Executive Chef