Green Cuisine

– A Conversation About Ithaca, New York’s Green New Deal –

The below video features Ithaca’s Acting Director of Sustainability, Rebecca Evans, Renowned Induction Current Chef, Chris Galarza, and Executive Director of Ithaca’s Southside Community Center, Chavon Bunch. In the aftermath of my participation in the City’s budget process, we met for a zoom call to discuss the significance of newly approved spending on the renovation and electrification of a celebrated local community center’s kitchen. The conversation we had offers a dynamic window into the progress of one city’s efforts to green its infrastructure, and to unite residents around this transformative social, economic and political movement. Collectively, the speakers highlight the health benefits of cooking on induction current stoves, and the integral spiritual role food plays in building community. 

–  Jeffrey F. Barken


Rebecca Evans is the Acting Director of Sustainability at the City of Ithaca. An enthusiastic sustainability professional, Rebecca is leading the City of Ithaca’s efforts to develop a culture of environmental mindfulness and equity. She employs energetic storytelling, strategic goal setting and tracking methods to make a difference.



Chef Chris Galarza is an Entrepreneur, author, public speaker, and podcaster Chef Chris Galarza is renowned for his work in kitchen electrification. Chef Galarza is the Founder and Culinary Sustainability Consultant for Forward Dining Solutions LLC the first and only firm dedicated exclusively to creating sustainable and efficient commercial kitchens. As the country’s foremost expert in commercial electric-kitchens chef works with clients to sustainably create kitchens that promote healthy, efficient, and equitable working conditions. Chef has worked on notable projects such as Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus (the world’s first fully self-sustained university campus), Microsoft Redmond, and Castilleja All-Girls School.

Chef worked for several prestigious establishments such as Carnegie Melon University, Monterey Bay of Pittsburgh, and The Greenbrier of WV where he apprenticed under several Certified Master Chefs and culinary Olympians. Chef leverages his experience as a culinarian, educator, and consultant to get projects moving forward and leaves operators educated and prepared to successfully, efficiently, and safely run their kitchen for years to come.


Southside Community Center works to affirm, empower, and foster the development of self-pride among the African American citizens of greater Ithaca. Southside Community Center is led by its Executive Director, Mrs. Chavon Bunch. Born and raised in Ithaca, Chavon is the daughter of Marcia Baum, granddaughter of Dr. Donald and Jennie Graham, all whom have respectfully served the Ithaca community for almost 50 years. Chavon is not only committed to Southside Community Center and its mission, she represents the continuation of dynamic community service and programming. Programming at Southside Community Center includes, but is not limited to youth and educational services, food pantry, pet care clinics, bicycle services, performing arts, and political consciousness as well as culturally significant events and celebrations that honor the historic, present, and future lives of Black people. Leading the torche, Mrs. Chavon Bunch is a calming homegrown force of wisdom! Her dynamic directorship and advocacy ignites great excitement and stability for our staff, board members, volunteers, program participants, and beyond! When you see her and her family, husband Antwan, daughter Ayani and son Kincade walking in the Southside neighborhood please stop and say hello! 


Jeffrey F. Barken is an author, photographer, and the creator of Follow his “open journal” on Twitter and Instagram for a window into his creative process and to join in collaborative ventures. A list of his recent publications is available here.