WASHINGTON (AP) — Top-rated chefs from across the nation are joining a new effort by the U.S. State Department to use food as a tool for diplomacy worldwide.

On Friday, 80 chefs are being inducted into the new American Chef Corps to help Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton forge person-to-person connections and cultural exchanges over the dining table.

Mike Isabella, who gained fame on TV's "Top Chef," is the first new "State Chef" to formally represent America's food culture abroad. During a trip he planned to research flavors for his upcoming Greek-inspired restaurant, the 37-year-old chef also is visiting embassies and restaurants in Greece and Turkey as a culinary ambassador.

Isabella says food is the best way to bring people together because it's one thing people everywhere have in common.