TEDxManhattan Heroes: Dana Cowin

Photograph by John Kernick

Leading up to TEDxManhattan 2015, we've asked this year's speakers to introduce themselves by answering a few questions. Dana Cowin has served as editor-in-chief at Food & Wine magazine for twenty years. She is a long-time food, wine and style writer and sits on the boards of directors of City Harvest, Wholesome Wave and Hot Bread Kitchen. She was inducted into the James Beard Foundation's Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America in 2012. 

What will you be speaking about?

I'll be talking about the importance of ugly, misshapen, unloved foods and what we're missing out on when we throw them away. My goal is to alter the misguided -- and damaging -- assumption that beauty equals value in food.

Why is this important?

If we can redefine what we believe is desirable in food we can reduce waste and, at the same time, embrace and eat delicious, nutritious food.

What are you passionate about right now - either something you or someone else is doing?

I'm very excited about all of the chefs who are helping change the way we eat, both inside their restaurants and in the world at large, from Tom Colicchio with Food Policy Action, to Dan Barber with his book The Third Plate, to José Andrés with his work bringing cleaner, safer cookstoves to Haiti.

If we can redefine what we believe is desirable in food we can reduce waste and, at the same time, embrace and eat delicious, nutritious food.

What one recipe would you most like to share with the TEDxManhattan community?

It would be Rene Redzepi's recipe for Vintage Carrot and Warm Sorrel Sauce, using a carrot that stayed in the ground a whole year before it was pulled up, gnarly and hairy, and transformed into something sublime. The recipe can be found in his fabulous cookbook, Noma.

Which other 2015 TEDxManhattan speakers are you excited about hearing?

I'm fascinated by the work of Henry Hargreaves because it captures truths about life through images of food. And I can't wait to hear Danny Meyer's thoughts on fine dining and chains.

Which past speakers did you find particularly inspiring?

Sam Van Aken's talk on his Tree of 40 Fruits project was innovative and really beautiful.

Where can we find more information about you?

You can find out more about my philosophy on cooking and life at masteringmymistakes.com and about the work of Food & Wine at foodandwine.com. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @fwscout.

TEDxManhattan, "Changing the Way We Eat," will take place March 7, 2015, at the TimesCenter in New York City. Interested in joining the day? You can apply to attend, host or attend a viewing party, or stream live online.