World-Famous American chef and culinary ambassador Ben Ford’s unforgettable visit to Georgia
29 October, 2015
World-Famous American chef and culinary ambassador Ben Ford’s unforgettable visit to Georgia
Ben Ford, a famous American chef and son of Hollywood legend Harrison Ford, has paid a visit to Georgia. The charismatic chef, author, adventurer and craftsman who has made a name for himself with rustic dishes such as the whole roasted pig, has been invited to Georgia as a Culinary Ambassador by the American Embassy in Tbilisi. Though his trip lasted for just a few days, Mr. Ford has managed to visit several Georgian restaurants, farms, sample local wines and food, conduct a master class with some of the best chefs at the Culinary Academy in Tbilisi as well visit Rustavi minimum security prison to do a workshop for inmates.

Georgian Journal was more than lucky to attend his master class at the Culinary Academy and ask the world-renowned chef to share his impressions about Georgia and its cuisine.

“I would say that your dishes are excellent and very authentic.There was one particular dish that I really enjoyed - fermented green tomato with walnut sauce; that was simply wonderful. I also loved dumplings with broth inside; this was very nice as well.”
Ben Ford demonstrated an extraordinary way of roasting a pig
Ben Ford together with his father Harrison Ford and sons

“The market was very plentiful and wonderful, something that I really enjoy doing. Also I was quite surprised to see a culinary school like this in the country. It is beautiful and nice to work in. You have great hospitality, wonderful hotels and wonderful service.”

“The purpose of my visit is to promote diplomacy between the U.S. and Georgia. Food is a wonderful way to do it. I am one of the culinary ambassadors for the State Department and this is just one of the things that I do - spreading good will. I would say that your dishes are excellent and very authentic. Everything is wonderful here: You have good products, good food, chefs seem very capable, so I have had some excellent experience so far. I think some of the fermented dishes are very good. There was one particular that I really enjoyed - fermented green tomato with walnut sauce; that was simply wonderful. I also loved dumplings with broth inside! You have a beautiful country. The market was very plentiful and wonderful, something that I really enjoy doing. Also I was quite surprised to see a culinary
school like this in the country. It is beautiful and nice to work in. You have great hospitality, wonderful hotels and wonderful service,” noted Mr.Ford in the interview with Georgian Journal.
The chef prepared his signature demoed porchetta with shell beans, smoked potatoes, and salsa verde for the Georgian chefs at the Georgian Culinary Academy, offering a completely different and extraordinary way of roasting a pig. Emily Ford, the chef’s wife who accompanied him on his trip, assisted him with much enthusiasm during the cooking process. The result was an incredibly delicious savory pork roast paired with Georgian wine.
Emily Ford assisted her husband during the cooking process

“I made an international dish using local ingredients, so that the chefs here would be able to easily emulate it. That is one of the things that I thought was very important - it is essential that they see a new way to use their ingredients,” added the chef.

After the master class Georgian chefs had an opportunity to sample the dish as well as have a discussion with their foreign colleague and get some helpful advices from him.

“The only way your growers are going to bring diversity and more ingredients to your table and make you look the best you can on the international scene is to create partnerships. As you travel, discover new cuisines and experience new things you’ll want your farmers to grow something special for you. So you need to begin partnerships to ensure that,” Mr. Ford explained his philosophy.
Ben Ford at Culinary Academy in Tbilisi

During his trip, Ben Ford paid a visit to Kakheti’s city of Sighnaghi, calling it magical. There he seized an opportunity to explore the ancient Georgian tradition of fermenting wine by using kvevri, a large earthenware vessel, as well as get acquainted with toné, a Georgian clay oven used for baking bread and roasting meat.
“A tone is a clay pot above the ground for baking bread and can also be used to roast pigs in” - Ben Ford in Kakheti

The famous American chef’s incredible journey ended with visiting a penitentiary institution, where he prepared delicious and spicy chili together with the inmates.

“Sometimes it happens that people choose a wrong path in life but they have good personalities. I hope that we helped the inmates to develop themselves in the culinary direction through today’s master class. I have to say that am proud that they got involved in the process with such great enthusiasm and interest,” commented Ben Ford after his visit.

Author: Lika Chigladze

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