By Carolina Fojo, East Coast Fellow, Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation
On Tuesday at Gallaudet University, BAMCO Executive Chef Jay Keller stood behind a beautiful spread of ingredients including Pennsylvania purple potatoes, Maryland oyster mushrooms, and tofu from across the street (more photos here).
He had just 30 minutes to create a meal from ingredients chosen by the students from this bounty, as part of the East Coast tour of the Sustainable Food Challenge. After a bit of debate (chicken or salmon?), they finally settled on wild-caught Alaskan salmon and chicken produced without the routine use of antibiotics, as well as local oyster mushrooms, Swiss chard, and apples.
As Jay went to work, the students, BAMCO staff, and I got to talking. Some highlights from our conversation:
- “I’ve heard that only half of the meat in the café is real, and the rest isn’t really meat…” (!) BAMCO General Manager Dee Kwong assured the students that not only is 100% of the meat in the café real, it’s all local, coming from Roseda Beef and Legacy Manor Farm.
- “Can you talk about the use of hormones in food and how it affects our health?” We discussed BAMCO’s rBGH-free policy re: milk and yogurt.
- “I’m allergic to mushrooms—which you’re putting in one of your dishes right now. If I eat the dish but avoid the mushrooms, will I get sick?” At this point, certified health counselor Mary Porter of A Better Plate stood up and told students about the dangers of contamination for people who have food allergies and why it’s so important to look at labels.
We also discussed the relationship between food and climate change, concerns over seafood today, and farmworker rights. But by the time Jay’s 30 minutes were up, the students were done with good talking and ready for some good eating!