One of the best things about my job is that I get to interact and build relationships with passionate people on a daily basis.
On a visit to Colorado College, I was sitting in the student center, working on some things while enjoying the atmosphere of being on a college campus, when Executive Sous Chef John E. Faulkner sat down next to me. John has been with Bon Appétit for more than 15 years. I wish I’d had a video camera running. Instead, these notes will have to try to convey the spirit of the man who claimed “I am Bon Appétit!”
“All I ever wanted to do was cook,” John told me. Right out of high school he joined the Marine Corps where he served as a cook for three years. “I’ve been all over the world cooking” — Italy, Japan, and before he ended up in Colorado, he cooked in Texas, Louisiana, California, Wyoming, Oregon, and Washington! In Italy, where he cooked in the officers’ club, he “met little old ladies who lived downtown that taught me to cook real Italian food.”
Back in the U.S., he traveled the country, working in “ma and pa joints” before ending up in Seattle, where he cooked for a sorority and fraternity. One day he got on a train “and ended up in Portland,” where he attended the Western Culinary Institute and cooked at the Portland Hilton for 10 years. In 1997, he joined Bon Appétit at the University of Portland, and relocated to Colorado Springs a year and a half ago.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone more vocal and passionate about all of our initiatives. “I believe in everything that Bon Appétit stands for — all of it. I tout it violently,” Faulkner proclaimed, and he seems proud of the fact that he’s been kicked under the table numerous times for doing just that during meetings. His favorite is the Farm to Fork program, and he told me excitedly about how he recently was able to buy Colorado College six whole steers from Venetucci Farms in Colorado Springs, CO. By buying the whole animal and processing it himself into burgers and steaks, Faulkner is able to support local farmers while making it still cost effective for Bon Appétit.
Faulkner loves working on a college campus, because our “food system is broken, and you kids are the next consumers. We can do our part to educate the populace, but it’s up to these kids to take it and run with it.” At this point, he turned around and enthusiastically addressed two college students who were studying near us — or trying to — asking them if they were “with us.” They couldn’t help but smile and nod: Faulkner’s enthusiasm is that infectious.
“I believe in it, I believe in all of it, and I’ll never stop saying it!” Faulkner pledged. “I love my job, I love the people I work with, I love our programs, I love Bon Appétit!”