Turning the Love of Food & Wine into World Change

Julia Child, Jan Roberts & Rebekah Heppner OBA Fundraiser

The questions bugged me—how do I turn the prevalent love of food and wine in this country into making a positive difference in the world? How the heck do I raise money for this new nonprofit when so many organizations doing great things are struggling for funds?  How do I know that my idea for this new initiative to change the world really is the next best thing since spanx and not like the latest tweet from a fading celeb? The only way I knew how to answer these questions was to ply folks with good food and wine and do my pitch–which is what I did and what a party it was!  My friend Lorna’s spacious home was filled to capacity with potential culinary agents wild about my new idea—Operation Bon Appétit TV Series.

It turns out that what I enjoy—feasting and drinking in merry company while making a difference—is what so many other folks enjoy. That is what Operation Bon Appétit is about—changing the world one dinner party at a time.  The idea springs from a long time belief that is backed up by opinion polls that most people do want to contribute to making their community/society better.  After being a social entrepreneur for nearly 35 years, I also know that they don’t want to do it if it takes too much time or money and if it is not fun.  So why not do it over food and drink with friends—a past time that rates highly with just about everyone.

I owe my idea for Operation Bon Appétit to Julia Child, who loved good food and wine and showed people how to enjoy that in their own homes. You might not know this but Julia worked for the OSS, the forerunner to the CIA. It is my belief that she was subversively getting people engaged in living the good life and her toast “bon appétit” at the end of each show was a signal to other culinary agents in the field that her work was going well.  So I want to engage people in living the good life and helping to make it that way for the rest of humanity and the planet itself.

I took Julia’s life work and the branding of the CIA to create Operation Bon Appétit with the elegantly simple goal of bringing people together over food and wine to enjoy enlightened conversations and engage in activities that made their own quality of life and that of their community a little better. For the TV show, I and a sexier, younger co-host—Shannon McIntosh—will travel around the country, cook delicious food and sip wine with folks in their communities who are creatively solving local social and sustainability problems. Following the show, folks can go to our website www.operationbonappetit.org and use our World Factbook on Conviviality as a resource for recipes, conversational guide and examples of positive and successful quality of life activities.

I just completed the first step, which was to raise funds for the production of a Sizzle Tape to be used to promote Operation Bon Appétit’s TV show to networks, sponsors and funders. The folks that filled Lorna’s home came because for $20 donation they could eat dinner, drink French wine and engage in conversations with other like minded people while supporting an idea that appealed to them.  At the end of the evening we had the costs for the Sizzle Tape covered but even more than that, we had 65 potential culinary agents who would spread the word and also host their own OBA dinner party. However, the very best part of me was the sense of abundance I experienced when I thought about how very hard my CIA board members had worked to make the evening such a wonderful success simply because they believed the potential of Operation Bon Appétit.

We will produce the Sizzle Tape in January and then the fun begins to sell this next great idea to decision makers who can make it a reality.

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