Food service company challenges chefs to source locally

Bon Appetit Management challenges cafe operations to source from more 1,000 local farm and food operations by 2011.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

The world of corporate food service -- ala your company cafeteria -- isn't always glamorous, but it can't definitely make an impact on habits. That's a philosophy being embraced wholeheartedly by Bon Appetit Management, which runs more than 400 corporate and university cafes in 30 different states. Through its Farm to Fork program, Bon Appetit has a goal to source food from up to 1,000 small owner-operated farms near its food service locations by 2011.

Bon Appetit team members help with produce at a local farm.

Farm to Fork stipulates that its operations should buy as much as possible from agricultural, dairy and meat operations that are located within 150 miles of its kitchens. That philosophy also applies to the cooking oils used to prepare meals. Get ready for this: Farm to Fork is a program that has been in place for more than a decade, so this isn't just some self-serving reaction to current interest in the localvore trend.

The latest twist on Bon Appetit's quest to source locally is its sixth annual Eat Local Challenge, being held on Sept. 28, 2010. Meals being produced that day are supposed to be 100 percent source from local ingredients -- with the exception of the salt! In the spirit of things, the company will give away an iPad to a randomly selected Facebook fan of Bon Appetit Management. All you have to do is post a menu that uses only locally source ingredients. In addition, four Bon Appetit Management employees (there are 10,000 of them) can earn a day off for preparing a 100 percent locally source meal during the entire month of September. So, the agri-sustainability mindset isn't something that is just being pushed down by upper management.

But, here IS upper management's mindset, in the form of a quote from Fedele Bauccio, the CEO of Bon Appetit Management:

"When pushed to the challenge, professional chefs and at-home cooks alike can discover terrific new dishes and serve exciting, flavorful meals. When you use farm-fresh tomatoes, sustainably-grown greens, and organic poultry, you see a clear advantage these foods have over their factory-farm counterparts. These are the methods and meals our grandparents once employed and enjoyed."

Are you listening "Top Chef?" Incidentally, as I was searching around for other links, found a reference to a list of chefs around the country that are focused on sustainable cooking.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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