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ABOUT MADI

Chef Madison Butler (Chef Madi for short) is the 2019 Summer by Rail intern! This year, the focus is on food destinations with a special focus on great food you can reach by train and public transportation. During this year’s trip, Chef Madi will sample regional cuisines, get behind the scenes in some great kitchens, and meet interesting people from Maine to California through a variety of routes, including Amtrak’s Downeaster, Northeast Regional service, the Crescent, the City of New Orleans and the Southwest Chief.

She is a graduate of Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. She is passionate about creating fun menus that preserve artisanal methods while experimenting with new flavors. Hailing from the Bluegrass State, Madison is an advocate for sustainable agriculture and food accessibility. She completed training under Austin chefs Amy March,  Paul Qui, and Gregory Dishman, and has since pursued a variety of consultant and private chef roles internationally. When she isn’t assembling food trucks, tweaking software and training fry cooks, she can be found in friends’ restaurants. Madison also volunteers to prepare food for various groups and shelters to assist those who struggle with food security.

Chef Madi’s call to join the Rail Passenger Association was brought on by her interest in transportation by rail. After her childhood in Kentucky where public transit services are limited, she has gone on to ride internationally. She has continued her passion by trying to find rail routes to and from her culinary events and is deeply appreciative to do so now with this new experience. By fusing rail culture and food culture, she hopes to provide insight on accessible, sustainable experiences with each community’s special charm and individual transit needs.

ABOUT SBR

“Summer By Rail” is perhaps the greatest internship in America. Started in 2016, each summer the Rail Passengers Association sends its paid intern correspondent on a month-long cross-country trip by train to see America. On their journey, the correspondents report on the rail passenger network from inside the train. They talk with passengers about how they use transportation to work, live and play. They meet with mayors and government officials in big cities and small towns on planning issues. And, they sample the local food, drinks, entertainment and recreation that is available through the passenger rail network. In 2016, we focused on biking and the outdoors, in 2017 two interns teamed up to look at different styles, architecture and fashion across the country, and last year Jacob Wallace went to 19 major, minor and independent league baseball stadiums to show us how accessible they were…or weren’t. In 2019, Rail Passengers has decided to focus on food. If you have any questions about the program or want to learn more about Summer by Rail, send us a note at narp@narprail.org.

Check back often for blog post updates and follow us on Instagram @railpassengers.

— All Aboard and stay hungry!

ABOUT RAIL PASSENGERS

The Rail Passengers Association is a nonprofit organization that works to expand and enhance train service in order to create “A Connected America” where all of us, rich or poor, rural or urban, are linked together. Rail Passengers works to rebuild our country’s infrastructure through public-private partnerships, and by amplifying the voice and influence of the American rail passenger giving them the power to improve transportation options in their communities.

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MEDIA

August 1, 2019

Chef Madi talked about revitalizing rail travel in New Orleans. On funding passenger rail, Madi said, “Defunding public transportation is an insult to those who rely on it… Without multi-modal solutions, we are denying autonomy to people that live within our community.”

Read the story here

July 31, 2019

In Memphis, TN, Madi chatted about how public transportation affects both residential communities and tourism, “There are 1,200 counties in the U.S. with no public transportation. I’d say there’s a lack of exposure to good public transportation infrastructure that makes people wary of it.”

Read the story here

July 30, 2019

From the train station in Memphis, Madi spoke about goals for the trip, including advocating for better rail transportation and being honest and transparent about food and travel along the way; “I want to give a lot of first-person narrative and first-person perspective.”

Read the story here

July 25, 2019

Madi talked in NYC about the place where rail transportation and food intersect, arguing that people in big cities often take for granted their public transportation infrastructure, “in smaller cities, if you work second or third shift… you can’t necessarily get there if you don’t have a car.”

Read the story here

July 24, 2019

In Meridian, MS, Madi stopped to speak about goals for the trip. “I want to see my experience create tangible change for communities,” Butler said.

Read the story here

July 16, 2019

Madi spoke about the benefits of train travel, saying “being able to travel from one city center to another by train allows people to get to unique restaurant destinations much easier than flying or driving, which means less time waiting in baggage claim, more time getting snacks and socializing.”

Read the story here

July 11, 2019

Madi stopped in NYC toward the beginning of the Summer by Rail trip. The publication said of the internship, “it’s tough to say where business leaves off and the pure dining adventure kicks in.”

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Eaten Path NOLA

July 30, 2019

Madi met with foodie influencer, Dr. Nicole Caridad, at a soon-to-be-opened restaurant, Jimbeaux’s, in New Orleans where they spoke about RPA’s public transportation and rail advocacy mission.

Read the story here

July 27, 2019

In Mississippi, Madi talked about their vision for the future of rail travel, including more and better multi-modal transportation, reducing food waste, increasing food accessibility and using biodegradable packaging for food.

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NDREWMARIN

July 23, 2019

Madi met with foodie influencer Andrew Marin at the soft open of a restaurant, Jimbeaux’s, in New Orleans, where they spoke about RPA’s public transportation and rail advocacy mission.

Read the story here

August 3, 2019

Madi met with foodie influencer Andrew Marin at the soft open of a restaurant, Jimbeaux’s, in New Orleans, where they spoke about RPA’s public transportation and rail advocacy mission.

Read the story here

Freedom of Transit

August 3, 2019

Madi met this blogger in the Amtrak Dining car on the way to Meridian, MS. The two bonded over the stunning views of Lake Pontchartrain and dinner at Acme Oyster House.

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August 5, 2019

While in North Carolina, Butler discussed the delicious food at Mert’s Heart and Soul restaurant in Charlotte. And, of course, their mission to show Americans that train travel is more accessible than flying or driving as long as service is maintained, and long-distance routes stay open.

Read the story here

August 5, 2019

In Kansas City, Chef Madi discussed the Summer by Rail internship and what train service looks like across the country. “What we do, in many parts, is to advocate for making sure that passenger rail does receive the priority that it’s legally guaranteed,” said Butler.

Read the story here

August 8, 2019

Madi talked about changes they’d like to see in the national rail system, saying, “I’m a fan of nationalizing it because it drives down your cost, and you don’t have a need for-profit margin, and yes, it may change some of the bylaws of taxation in areas that are affected, but ultimately, if it’s affordable and accessible, people will use it.”

Read the story here

August 10, 2019

On public transportation, Madi said, “I haven’t owned a car in three years, so public transit is something I rely on… I’ve seen what multimodal accessibility can provide for the community. It’s important to the success of our environment, as well as our future.”

Read the story here 

"Summer By Rail" is perhaps the greatest internship in America. Started in 2016, each summer the Rail Passengers Association sends its paid intern correspondent on a month-long cross-country trip by train. On their journey, the correspondents report on the rail passenger network from inside the train. They talk with passengers about how they use transportation to work, live and play. They meet with mayors and government officials in big cities and small towns. And, they sample the local food, drinks, entertainment and recreation that is available through the passenger rail network.

The application process to be the “Summer by Rail” correspondent will gear up in early 2020. If you are interested in the job, you can send your resume, and a letter of interest now, and we will contact you when we begin to review candidates.

The selected candidate will help plan the trip for 2020. They will help decide what the theme of the journey will be, which routes to take, what to see, who to meet. In 2019, we had a chef visit culinary destinations, the year before a baseball fan went to 19 major and minor league games. What does 2020 have in store for you?

If your organization wants to support millions of rail passengers nationwide, please contact Jonsie Stone, development director, at jstone@narprail.org.