Blog: Local food

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I eagerly returned for this summer’s eighth annual trip with other Bon Appétit staff to visit and dine with Shepherd’s Grain farmers in Washington State. On our excursion to Eastern Washington, Bon Appétit chefs, managers, and I visited the Spokane Hutterian Brethren Colony in Reardan, WA, where the Grosses, Hofers, and Walters uphold their collective 460-plus-year family tradition in farming, growing crops on 9,000 acres and living a self-sufficient lifestyle. I love this trip because – like many conscientious eaters today – I like to know where my food comes from. It’s a rare treat to be among 75 farmers and chefs who put the meaning of their work so eloquently into words.

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When Jonas Stoltzfus of JuJo Acres in Loysville, PA, walked straight up to his non-castrated breeding bull and gave it a nice pat on the back, I knew I wasn’t on an ordinary farm.

Although available year round, fresh asparagus during the peak season is an unmatched delight so this spring, Chef Kiley Davis of Kaneko Commons and I set out to find the best local asparagus for our kitchens here at Willamette University in Salem, OR. We found it during a visit to Kenagy Family Farms, located just 45 minutes south in Albany, OR.

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Left to right: Gallaudet gardeners Carolina Fojo, Marcy Knox, Nicholas Palazzo III, Ryne Worsham, Davina Kwong, Jon Terpak Eight months ago the Gallaudet Community Garden was nothing but an abandoned volleyball court filled with sand. Today, thanks to the efforts of students and Bon Appétit — with the help of the football team — it’s a thriving garden of fourteen 20-foot-long beds that just saw its first-ever harvest! “It was an exciting day for everybody,” reports Davina Kwong, Bon Appétit General Manager at Gallaudet University, who helped spearhead the garden’s creation. “Employees from the café came out to help with the harvest, pick the fresh vegetables, and dream up ways to show them off in the café the next day.” Right: Bon Appétit café employee Tanisha Bryant picks beets from the garden. Golden wax garden beans, cucumbers, and beautiful yellow, […]

Executive Chef David Anderson demonstrates how to separate the ham and loin in his hog butchery demo Bon Appétit Executive Chef David Anderson from the Stanford Graduate School of Business believes that an animal’s life is worth more than two pork tenderloins. After the recent Northern California Chefs’ Exchange focusing on butchery at Cisco – San Jose, in San Jose, CA, he had this to say about how we use animals in our cooking:  

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Helene York, Bon Appétit’s director of strategic initiatives, recently visited Alaska, where she was speaking at Global Food Alaska’s biennial summit of producers from all parts of the food supply chain. Being Helene, she turned the trip into a jam-packed opportunity to learn all she could about the Alaskan seafood industry.

Bon Appétit at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia has been steadily increasing its purchases from local farmers ever since taking over the Penn account in 2009. But the busy chefs don’t always have the opportunity to venture outside of their kitchens and visit the producers. To provide chefs with a unique farmers’ perspective, as well as inspiration to purchase locally, Hill House Executive Chef Valerie McHugh has begun taking members of the Penn team on visits to local farms during school breaks.

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Have you ever seen a farm that grows produce using minerals, nutrients, and water, but no soil? Bon Appétit Farm to Fork partner John Lawson of Hydro Harvest Farms is doing just that—and growing about six times more produce than the typical farm in the process, he says!

Last fall, a group of student-activists and I had started coordinating Oberlin’s first-ever Food Week, to be held in March, to raise awareness about problems in our current food system and create a space for different activists to network and come to new solutions. To kick off the week, the students asked Bon Appétit to host a Local Foods Banquet. Let me repeat: they wanted to have a local foods banquet. In Ohio. In March. And we did it!

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Bon Appétit chefs are used to cooking for business and academic royalty: CEOs, Nobel Prize-winning professors, and university presidents dine on our food daily. But when the company was invited to feed actual royalty — His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, fresh from his son’s wedding — along with Bon Appétit CEO Fedele Bauccio, a dozen other stars of the sustainable food movement, and 750 journalists and other high-profile guests, the menu planning and food sourcing reached new heights of intensity.

The occasion was a landmark all-day conference on the “Future of Food,” hosted by the Washington Post at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.