What is Bon Appétit Management Company?
Bon Appétit Management Co. is an onsite restaurant company offering full food service management by providing café and catering services to corporations, universities and specialty venues. A pioneer in socially responsible food sourcing and business practices, Bon Appétit has more than 400 cafés in 31 states. The company is based in Palo Alto, California.
How is Bon Appétit different from other food service companies?
Sustainability is a core value at Bon Appétit. The company is passionate about serving fresh food to its guests, purchasing directly from local farmers and artisan producers, and about protecting the environment. Bon Appétit is committed to using sustainable, local food supplies in all cafés throughout the country. Chefs develop original menus and meals that feature these ingredients, and café staff training ensures that the benefits of sustainable food are communicated to thousands of guests every day.
How is Bon Appétit responding to the impending global crisis of climate change?
Recognizing that the food system is a major contributor to global climate change, we created the Low Carbon Diet – a program that aims to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of our entire company.
The Low Carbon Diet addresses the major hotspots of greenhouse gas emissions in the food industry. Chefs at each café are reducing the use of high carbon foods, such as animal proteins, highly processed and packaged foods and exotic or air-shipped fruits and fish; continuing to promote seasonality; eliminating foreign, bottled water; conducting energy audits of equipment and operations; and developing innovative waste management programs, including increased used of biofuels and composting.
An educational component of the Low Carbon Diet promotes low-carbon food choices for our diners. Guests have the opportunity to learn about the environmental costs of their daily food selections and their capacity to have a positive impact on global climate change.
What does sustainability mean for a food service company? What are the challenges?
Bon Appétit’s commitment to sustainability makes it possible for chefs to make purchasing choices that support local farmers and producers. This purchasing approach benefits the entire system of food. It keeps local farmers in business, allows the chefs to feature organic, regional and seasonal food, and ensures that guests are served the healthiest, freshest food possible. The challenges are the same ones that farmers face; the weather can affect the availability of fruits and vegetables, and keeping local distribution systems in place during seasonal changes is hard work.
How does the Bon Appétit approach affect the quality of the food?
Although it has many cafés across the country, Bon Appétit acts like a small boutique firm with a culture of chefs who are empowered to make their own decisions about what to cook. Chefs have the freedom to create their own menus. They choose produce, meats and dairy from local farmers who they know personally and make their own decisions about what to serve their guests based on seasonally available foods and regional preferences. Chefs make all sauces and soup stocks from scratch, roast all turkey and beef in-house daily for deli meats and bake breads in-house where possible.
Is Bon Appétit's food more expensive?
With Bon Appétit's model, serving made-from-scratch food from sustainable sources doesn't have to be more expensive. By buying directly from farmers and artisans, Bon Appétit is able to put more money into the producers' pockets, rather than paying a middleman, and still offer reasonable prices to guests. As for seafood, many of the sustainable choices, such as tilapia and catfish, are also very economical.
How do the chefs work with this model?
Bon Appétit offers no menu cycles or rigid corporate orders. Instead, the company encourages chefs to create innovative and individual menus - all with the unified passion of delivering healthy, fresh meals. Chefs borrow and learn from one another, but this is a practice the company facilitates, not one it manages.
The company's annual Culinary Challenge rewards individual chefs for innovation in the use of local and sustainable foods.
How does Bon Appétit work with local farmers on supplying produce?
Farm to Fork is a company-wide initiative to buy locally-grown food. A chef's first choice is to buy seasonal and regional products from local farmers within a 150-mile radius. The food is served within 48 hours of harvest. By buying directly from local farmers, the chefs get the freshest food possible, and keep profits reinvested in the local community rather than with a distant importer.
What about dairy products?
Where available, Bon Appétit uses locally produced milk that is free of Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH).
What about meats and poultry?
In today's industrialized food system, animals are being treated with potent antibiotics, raising concerns about increased human resistance to these critical drugs. As a socially responsible company, Bon Appétit is committed to helping address the public health threat from antibiotic resistance. Bon Appétit purchases only turkey breast and chicken that has been produced without the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics that belong to classes of drugs approved for use in human medicine. Their pioneering poultry purchasing policy has been in place since 2003, driving producers to make healthier products more widely available and prompting transformation of the industry. Hamburgers are made with fresh ground chuck from beef raised on vegetarian feed without antibiotics or added hormones. For other meats, Bon Appétit chefs buy products free of antibiotics as a first preference. Free-range, organic and grass-fed beef and pork from local sources is served at many locations.
What is Bon Appétit doing to protect our seafood supply and our oceans?
Chefs purchase seafood based on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch guidelines for sustainable seafood choices.