At Bon Appétit Management Company, we take a lot of pride in our Farm to Fork program, in which we purchase fresh, local food from small farmers around the country. As part of its second annual Food Week, the University of Pennsylvania hosted a “Farmville Forum”: during this panel, Farm to Fork Partner* Trent Hendricks of Hendricks Farm and Dairy spoke quite frankly about his relationship with Bon Appétit and what it meant for his business:
Our primary customer at the farm is either gourmet, foodie-oriented, or feels they need our food to heal whatever ails them. But the problem with the cheese customers or the high-end customer is they only come out to the farm twice a year, buy four ounces of cheese, tell you you’re a rock star, and then go home.
And that’s where partnering up with Bon Appétit, or companies like them, is very, very beneficial. I spent the last year and a half sparring with the various people at Bon Appétit because I didn’t believe their shtick. But it’s real — they actually buy into this stuff, which is… illogical!
I’m a farmer, I know: farmers are annoying! And when they’ve got 45,000 meals a week, you gotta have food. I mean, students rebel… you can’t handle that! So, dealing with farmers that say, you know, “Bessie wasn’t fat enough to kill this week,” doesn’t fly.
And, that’s where Bon Appétit has been completely atypical. They understand, and they want to make it work. Most companies that we’ve dealt with in the past don’t actually want to make it work. They wanna put your name on a menu, they wanna tell everybody how cool they are, and they’ll got lots of people to come in. But then they drop you for the next cool thing that comes down the pike. And it’s very hard to build a business on that.
When you have a company like Bon Appétit who has made ridiculous claims that they want to fulfill, that’s pretty powerful. That’s real stuff.
*Hendricks has since downsized his farm and now only does on-farm direct sales to consumers.