What’s the best thing about working for Bon Appétit? I’ve been asked that question a million times, and although my answer occasionally varies, I always come back to this: Working for Bon Appétit gives me an opportunity to start new projects and focus my energy on things that truly matter to me. Respect for others — for our farmers, our soil, our cooks, and the animals we eat — is a huge part of it.
If we’re doing our jobs correctly as chefs, we can inspire the people who work for us. We’re teachers and leaders. This means teaching our cooks not to write a menu first and then place an order, but rather to look at what’s available from our suppliers and create a delicious menu that uses the best, freshest ingredients to their fullest potential. This is especially important when it comes to the animals we consume.
At Willamette University, we’ve been working with Pure Country Pork, a sustainable hog operation that’s third-party animal welfare certified by Food Alliance. Their “whole hog program” aligns neatly with Bon Appétit’s values. At Willamette, we receive two whole pigs every week, butcher them, and distribute them throughout the kitchen. We even prepare porchetta di testa— boned, marinated, and braised pig’s head — out of the respect that we owe these magnificent animals for feeding us in the most delicious of ways. We won’t let any part of them go to waste.
As the chefs among you know, it’s important to push the creative envelope while still staying true to the principles of sustainability. This can pose a challenge, and it certainly can be exhausting. But I’m telling you right now, if you keep doing what you’re doing, change for the best is inevitable.
So what is the best thing about working for Bon Appétit? Every day we are given the chance to make this world a better place, one choice at a time.
Submitted by André Uribe, Executive Chef, Willamette University