The Washington Post

Congressman blasts Amtrak’s gourmet chef program

An Acela train at Union Station. (Gerald Martineau/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Amtrak is hoping accomplished chefs can help spruce up its menus, but one congressman thinks the program needs to be pureed.

Wait, how about this one? Amtrak gathers gourmet chefs to brainstorm new recipe ideas, and that has left one congressman steaming.

Wait! Here’s another one: While Amtrak thinks gourmet chefs can help it upgrade the food it serves, one congressman says the program should be deep-fried.

(Okay, that was the last one, we promise.)

Last week, The Post’s Lori Aratani took readers inside Amtrak’s attempts to find new recipes and change its menus. Here’s what she reported:

In exchange for frequent traveler miles, the rail agency has hired some of the most accomplished chefs in the country, who come together each spring to brainstorm new dishes for Amtrak’s menus.

The annual chefs’ gathering is part of an effort to change the way riders think about train cuisine. The goal is hipper, more healthful food to tempt the palates of the millions of annual passengers. After all, in a world that embraces designer doughnuts and upscale ramen noodles, why not gourmet train food?

This week, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) offered an answer to that question. In a news release issued Tuesday, Mica derided the program as being wasteful at a time when Amtrak posts losses on its food services.

“Taxpayers would choke if they knew the costs of these gourmet meals,” Mica said in the release.

He also said he hopes to have congressional subcommittees investigate this program. Mica, speaking with Politico this week, said he wanted to find out the cost of what he called “gourmet chef conclaves.”

This isn’t a new issue for Mica. Last year, he called Amtrak’s millions of dollars in  losses on food and beverages “outrageous.”

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Be a man and cry
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Sleep advice you won't find in baby books
Play Videos
Drawing as an act of defiance
A flood of refugees from Syria but only a trickle to America
Chicago's tacos, four ways
Play Videos
What you need to know about filming the police
What you need to know about trans fats
Syrian refugee: 'I’m committed to the power of music'
Play Videos
Riding the X2 with D.C.'s most famous rapper
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
Europe's migrant crisis, explained
Next Story
Lori Aratani · June 20, 2013

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.