Michel Nischan Bio

Chef Michel Nischan is an award-winning chef, including two James Beard awards, a leader in the sustainable food movement, and president and co-founder of Wholesome Wave — a nonprofit organization that creates nationwide programs that support small- and mid-sized local farmers and make fresh, healthy, locally grown foods available to all people, regardless of income.

As the son of farmers, Nischan grew up with an admiration for sustainable agriculture and those who work the land. From his mother, he inherited an appreciation for where food comes from, and a love of cooking with fresh, wholesome, locally grown meat and produce.

In his more than 30 years in the industry, Nischan has been consistently recognized for excellence as a chef, restaurateur and author —having won two James Beard awards, been named the IACP Humanitarian of the Year in 2011 and written three celebrated cookbooks — and is widely known for his passion in the sustainable foods movement. In 1999, Nischan met USDA Department of Agriculture official Gus Schumacher, and the two forged a long-term friendship that developed into a shared dedication to making locally and sustainably grown foods available to all. In 2001, the two men began discussing the idea of starting a nonprofit organization that would support small- to medium-scale farmers and make fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables available to all people, regardless of income or geographic location. Then in 2008, with support from a number of like-minded people and organizations, Wholesome Wave was born. Its core initiative — the Double Value Coupon Program — allows participating farmers markets to accept electronic SNAP benefits, and doubles the value of those benefits for SNAP-eligible consumers.

Today, the Double Value Coupon Program is working in more than 170 farmers markets nationwide, and helping both farmers and families eligible for federal food benefit dollars thrive. The initiative provides funding for the equipment and technical support farmers markets need to accept SNAP benefits — as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (FMNP) and the Senior FMN — through the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. It also supplies Double Value Coupons to consumers who benefit from these programs, so they can buy twice the amount of the healthy, fresh foods their families need.

With Nischan at the helm, Wholesome Wave continues to develop additional programs designed to provide affordable, local fresh fruits and vegetables to people who need them most; to support small- and medium-scale American farmers; and to generate data that can help shift federal funding to support more programs like Wholesome Wave’s.

Nischan serves on the boards of the Amazon Conservation Team, the James Beard Foundation, The Rodale Institute and Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment. He is also the owner of Dressing Room: A Homegrown Restaurant, located next to the Westport County Playhouse in Westport, Connecticut. Michel lives in Fairfield, Conn., with his wife, Lori, and their five children.

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