Michel Nischan is a chef and leader in the sustainable food movement, as well as a three-time James Beard Foundation Award winner. He is Founder, President and CEO of Wholesome Wave, Co-Founder of the Chefs Action Network, as well as Founder and Partner with the late actor Paul Newman of the former Dressing Room Restaurant. He and his Wholesome Wave team were successful at influencing legislative language for the recently passed Federal Farm Bill, supporting affordable access to healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables for low income consumers.
The Wholesome Wave Foundation
Wholesome Wave was founded in 2007 by Nischan, along with friends Michael Batterberry, and Gus Schumacher as founding Board Chair. It was founded with funding from Newman’s Own Foundation and the Betsy and Jesse Fink Foundation, and supported in part by funding from Grow for Good, a philanthropic initiative of FOOD & WINE Magazine. The mission of Wholesome Wave is to overhaul the nation’s food system by increasing access to healthy, fresh and affordable locally grown food. Until Dressing Room closed in 2014, Wholesome Wave and Dressing Room worked in tandem to create grassroots initiatives that celebrate local food systems, affordable food access in urban and rural communities struggling with poverty, and heritage recipe restoration.
Nischan’s most cookbook Sustainably Delicious (Rodale), was released in April, 2010. He is also the author of two other celebrated cookbooks: Taste Pure and Simple (Chronicle Books 2003), a 2004 best-selling Beard award winner, and Homegrown Pure and Simple (Chronicle Books 2005).
Career and Awards
Nischan’s book Taste Pure and Simple won a James Beard Foundation Award in 2004. Nischan won a second Beard Award in 2008 for his work on the PBS television series Victory Garden. His most recent award was presented by the James Beard Foundation in May 2015 for Humanitarian of the Year. He is also an Ashoka fellow. Nischan serves on the boards of the Amazon Conservation Team, the James Beard Foundation and Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment. Below is a full list of his awards:
2015 James Beard Foundation, Humanitarian of the Year
2015 Children of Bellevue, Honoree
2013 Food Inc. Awards, Pioneer Award
2013 Ira V. Hisckock Award for Public Health Service
2013 American Heart Association, Change the Future Award
2012 Monterey Bay Aquarium, Sustainable Chef of the Year
2012 Utne Reader Visionary Award
2012 California Small Farm Coalition Award for Excellence
2011 International Association of Culinary Professionals, Humanitarian of the Year
2010 Hummingbird Environmental Citizen Award
2010 Chefs Collaborative, Pioneers Table Award
2010 Diabetes Research Institute, Dare to Dream Award
2010 Huffington Post, Top 100 Game Changer’s Award
2010 Lifetime Ashoka Fellowship Award
2008 Marine Stewardship Council, Sustainable Seafood Ambassador Award
2008 James Beard Foundation, Best Television Segment for PBS “Victory Garden”
2007 Food Arts Magazine, Silver Spoon Award
2007 American Heart Association, Chef with Heart Award
2007 Condé Nast Traveler, Top 95 Restaurants in the World: Dressing Room Restaurant in Westport, CT and Pure Restaurant in Mumbai, India
2007 Esquire Asia, Top 10 New Restaurants in the World: Pure Restaurant, Mumbai India
2004 James Beard Foundation, Best Health Focused Cookbook
2004 Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine – Best Airline Food, Song Airways Food for Sale Program
1988 Marriott Hotels Corporation Chef of the Year
A son of displaced farmers, Nischan grew up with a deep appreciation for sustainable agriculture and those who work the land. As a professional chef and advocate for a more healthful, organic and sustainable food future, he has built on those childhood values and become a catalyst for change and new initiatives in local and regional food systems.