The State Department drew hundreds of mocking tweets over the weekend after it announced a new program that seeks to deploy American chefs in order to "advance the nation’s culinary diplomacy."
The "diplomatic culinary partnership" program was announced last week. The aim of the program is to add "another tool to the Department of State’s public diplomacy toolkit" by using "the dining experience as diplomatic tools to engage foreign dignitaries, bridge cultures, and strengthen relationships with civil society."
But the plan was roundly criticized by dozens of Twitter users on Saturday as a waste of money.
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"Economy in shambles, people struggling to make ends meet, high food price, homelessness at crazy numbers… and this is the US Gov," one respondent wrote.
"Terrible use of tax payer $$," wrote another who echoed dozens of other complaints about the price tag.
Another replied to the State Department tweet with a meme that said, "That was funny! Say some more stupid s---."
The State Department also drew a rebuke from Richard Grenell, former acting director of national intelligence under President Trump, who rejected the department’s assertion that "diplomacy begins with great food."
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"No, no, no," Grenell wrote on Sunday. "Diplomacy does not begin with good food. Stop!"
"Foreign Service Officers should be furious with this type of messaging that emphasizes a weak State Department interested in food & travel," Grenell added. "Taxpayers pay diplomats to solve problems peacefully! We need tough diplomats."
The State Department did not respond to questions from Fox News Digital about how much the program will cost taxpayers, and the cost and activities under the program are not entirely clear from the department’s description of the program. State said it has partnered with the James Beard Foundation and has "curated the American Culinary Corps," which is a network of more than 80 US chefs and culinary professions who will work in the U.S. and abroad to "foster cross-cultural exchange."
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At an event launching the program last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he wants these chefs to "use their incredible gifts to act as citizen diplomats – traveling, cooking, sharing our traditions one meal at a time."
Blinken indicated that the program involves using these chefs to cook for diplomatic events held in the U.S., so foreign dignitaries get a "chance to learn about the history of American cuisine and quite literally get a taste of our culture." But he also said it the program would "promote American food abroad."
The department didn’t answer questions from Fox News Digital about whether and how often these chefs and their staffs might travel domestically or globally to accomplish this mission.