The Bon Appétit Blog

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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. […]

What do 50 chefs and managers, world famous baguettes, cocoa oil-coated cheese wheels, and 130-year old olive trees have in common?  They were all part of last month’s exciting Chefs Exchange Tour, a fun, educational experience for Bon Appetit chefs and managers to learn more about food (they already know quite a bit) and to meet and mingle with colleagues from different sites. Early Saturday morning our bus headed toward Sonoma Valley, California, an area known for its gourmet food and bountiful vineyards.  First stop: Artisan Bakers.  Here we received valuable lessons about bread-making by founder Craig Ponsford, who was the first non-French baker to win first place in the Baguette and Specialty Breads competition of The Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie ("the world cup of baking").  Needless to say, the baguettes we sampled (and purchased without hesitation) were […]

If anything seems easy to define, it should be the word "normal." The more you think about it, though, the harder it becomes. Apply this word to food and beverages and it gets harder still. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Nora Pouillon, chef/owner of Restaurant Nora in Washington, DC, an establishment described as "America’s first certified organic restaurant." Growing up in Austria, Nora consumed food and beverages produced organically (though there wasn’t a fancy term for it): they were just normal. When she moved to the U.S. 30 years ago, "normal" food was defined by technology: hormones for animal growth, processed corn as feed, keeping animals indoors year-round. Far from being viewed as an advance, these practices clashed with Nora’s idea of what was normal and the restaurant was eventually born. Fast forward three decades to a lunch […]

Mid-month lesson: Our food supply chain is much more complicated than I thought. Bon Appetit kitchens are already virtually trans fat free.  In 2004, we converted all our frying oil to non-hydrogenated canola oil.  Also, since our chefs always cook from scratch, we don’t rely on many manufactured products (where trans fats are commonly found). Now we’re aiming to completely eliminate trans fats from our kitchens so I thought, how hard could that be?  Turns out, it’s not that simple.  My mission to find trans fat free margarines for our kitchens goes something like this: begin my search online and realize that not all companies post trans fat information and that I don’t know all the existing margarine manufacturers go directly to the grocery store, examine Nutrition Facts labels of approximately 30 individual margarine products, identify which ones are trans […]

One of the questions I’m asked frequently by reporters is some version of "Is Bon Appetit’s model of sustainability scalable?" Well, we’ve taken a big step towards answering that query with a resounding "yes!" Our purchases from local farmers or artisans have topped $55mm annually. That’s up 80% from our previous year’s $30mm. Bon Appetit’s model of empowering our chefs and managers to connect with local purveyors and source fresh ingredients is working. We have been able to support the communities in which we operate, provide our guests with great tasting, local food and maintain profitability. This is a trifecta that many doubted was possible. Naysayers suggested we would have to turn to organic agribusiness and low cost overseas producers to keep up with our growth. That local purchasing could not be done on a large scale. I think we’ve […]