The Bon Appétit Blog

+ Blog Categories

I have a few culinary heroes in my life…but one my most respected fellows in our food system is not a chef. First and foremost he is a Midwestern farmer….that holds an impressive list of academic appointments and accomplishments, including being recognized a along time leader in sustainable agriculture. His name is Fred Kirschenmann and if I could, I would have a poster of him in my office.  His vision to transform the US agricultural landscape has impressed me since the day I read his collaborative white paper called Why Worry About the Agriculture in the Middle? Its a somewhat complex analysis of the state of our family farms, but sufficient to say that these mid size farms are disappearing at such an alarming rate that they are expected to vanish within 10 years! They are the backbone of a […]

Sometimes it’s hard to know how "real" your vision can become  in the reality of day to day operations.  This January we introduced a Healthy Cooking Initiative that further changes the way we produce food in our kitchens so that healthier options are a mainstream offering in our cafes. Today, our guests do not have to search for a healthier choices.  They will find more deep color greens at every station; more complex carbs; more whole grains; more low fat choices; more vegetarian choices…at every station.We have eliminated a majority of trans fats, in some units up to 100% and we are encouraging our guest to consume less processed sugars. Is it working? Today I am in Chicago, the capital of the Midwest known for its love of less than healthy big portion steak and potatoes.  There we some hesitations […]

Yesterday I presented to a small group  of people interested in having us do their food service.  They are seemingly a very vibrant culture, deeply interested in sustainability issues including minimizing waste and encouraging composting. A good match for us. I am telling them about the biodegradable containers we use in some of our cafes, including a "clear plastic-like" series of boxes and drinking cups made from PLA.  This is a green-house gas neutral polymer made from corn that is bio-degradable.  From a quiet corner of the room came a loud and clear question belonging to a young man named Jesse: "Is this cup GMO free?" Wow, hadn’t expected that question from this group. The answer was "no". But this led to a discussion about some of the contradictions we sometimes face at Bon Appetit with sustainability issues.  Does it […]

I’ve been traveling more than not since the start of 2007. By noon on most days, I’ve marvelled at prepackaged sandwiches. Their similarity within a geographic area, not their variety, is striking. Large slabs of cheese tend to define "vegetarian" options (as if cheese were a vegetable!). Humbly, I admit, living on the west coast, the further east I’ve gone the more interesting the selections I’ve found. London has fierce competition for lunchtime business: at least four ever-present chains offer multiple varieties of sandwiches using free range eggs, local cheeses (!), and dark green leafy salad greens such as arugola ("rocket" in British English). Many products are organic including the whole wheat bread slices. Grilled panini, hot baguettes and cornish pasties offer warm options. New York, with its deli tradition, offers pastrami as well as chicken, but London-chain sandwiches, California-style […]

Last week I was visiting our team at Best Buy, in Minneapolis MN.  During my walk thru of the servery with Sous Chef Erik, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful coloring on the pork tenderloin being carved ,to be served on a tossed salad. I learned that pork came from a small local farmer.  While I am not a big pork eater, I had to taste. Yum! And I really should have been surprised but I couldn’t help pushing my plate in front of my peers for them to enjoy bite of this succulent food. Once again a testament to the wonderful flavors local farmers can bring to our plates. That small farmer happened to be delivering his weekly stock that day and we had a chance to have a nice chat.  Our team buys the entire animals from […]

As a member of the Genetic Engineering (GE) Policy Alliance, Bon Appetit is taking a stand and signing a letter of support for Assembly Bill 541, The Food and Farm Protection Act (Download AB_541_support letter.pdf).  Authored by Assemblymember Jared Huffman (6th AD), this bill would establish California’s only state laws related to genetic engineering in agriculture and protect California farmers, consumers, and the food supply. AB 541 protects California farmers and the food supply in four ways: Establishes the right of farmers and landowners to compensation for economic losses due to genetic contamination of their crops. Protects farmers from being sued by a GE manufacturer if their crop is contaminated by that company’s GE product. Establishes a county-level GE crop notification process so that farmers can trace contamination to the GE manufacturer. Protects the food supply by prohibiting the open-field […]

Our Bon Appetit team in the Northwest has always been on the cutting edge when it comes to issues of sustainability. In many ways, they’ve been leaders in our company. Now they are taking that knowledge and sharing it with other restaurateurs by sponsoring an educational pavilion at the Northwest Foodservice Show. Here’s an excerpt from a press release put out by the show organizers: [Wilsonville, OR] – Tradeshow management today released the growing list of industry sponsors for the largest foodservice industry show in the Pacific Northwest. Sponsorship of the 2007 Northwest Foodservice Show, April 1 and 2 at the Oregon Convention Center, means highlighting their business to thousands of industry professionals from throughout the northwest US and Canada. Bon Appétit Management Company, a national food service company, the first of which to address issues related to where our […]

At Bon Appetit, all of our shell eggs come from cage-free operations and our chicken, turkey breast and ground chuck are from animals raised without the use of antibiotics as routine feed additives. Now the State of California and Federal government are considering bills that would force all animal husbandry operations to move in this direction. H.R. 962 was introduced by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) on February 8, 2007, and S. 549 was introduced by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) on February 12, 2007. These bills would phase out the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics and require manufactures to report on how antibiotics are used. California State Assemblymember Mervyn Dymally (D-52nd District) introduced a bill into the State Assembly that would require that farm animals in the state merely be given enough room to turn around and extend their limbs. The Humane […]

Helene isn’t the only one questioning the prudence of bottled water (see her blog posting "What’s Normal" below). In their newsletter, Organic Bytes, the Organic Consumer Association selected eliminating bottled water from your daily routine as their Tip of the Week. They point to the oil involved in creating the plastic bottles (47 million gallons of oil per year for the US alone) as well as transportation and environmental costs. Seems like drinking tap water is a simple thing we all can do to help reduce our dependence on oil. – Maisie Greenawalt, Director of Communications & Strategic Initiatives

Samuel Fromartz, author of Organic Inc., is reporting on his blog Chews Wise that Dean Foods, the nation’s largest dairy company, has announced they will not sell milk from cloned animals. Consumers have shown in multiple surveys that they aren’t interested in products from cloned animals and Dean is listening. In December, when the FDA announced they were recommending the approval of milk and other products from cloned animals we were somewhat taken back.  At Bon Appetit Management Company, we pride ourselves on being able to tell the customers of our 400 corporate and university cafes the provenance of the food we serve. The idea that products from cloned animals could be approved to enter our food system without any labeling is quite frightening. I’m interested in what you have to think about the idea of milk from cloned animals. […]