Odessa Piper, former chef-proprietor of Madison’s L’Etoile Restaurant, is one of five activists who will receive honorary degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Friday, May 12.
Piper has distinguished herself as a tireless champion of sustainability in American agriculture and cooking. Using food to address fundamental questions of what our responsibilities are to each other and to the planet, Piper opened L’Etoile in 1976. From the beginning, she committed it to expanding the possibilities for eating fare prepared from local resources. Her menus evolved to merge culinary and ecological goals by relying on the region’s abundance and diversity throughout the year, including winter in the Snow Belt.
She also has had a substantial impact on the training of chefs. Because of her advocacy, more culinary schools include on-farm internships as part of their formal training programs. She has worked with innovative farmers to develop a plan for a school of organic farming and cooking so that the next generation of farmers and cooks can bring more wholesome and locally raised foods to all members of society.
Together, all of the honorary degree recipients have set a standard of excellence in civil and environmental engineering, agriculture to alleviate hunger among Africa’s poor, agronomy, sustainability and the culinary arts, and disability issues All five attended UW-Madison. The other recipients are Oscar C. Boldt, Florence Chenoweth, William L. Ogren and Robert Z. Segalman.
The university will bestow its honorary degrees during the ceremony on Friday, May 12, which begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Kohl Center. In all, five ceremonies will be held through Sunday, May 14.
Honorary degree candidates receive no financial stipend from the university. UW-Madison academic departments recommend candidates for honorary degrees to the 28-member Committee on Honorary Degrees. Upon recommendation of the committee, nominees are presented to the UW-Madison chancellor, UW System Board of Regents and the UW-Madison Faculty Senate for final approval.
Author: Barbara Wolff, University Communications