Chef Helene Kennan
The Getty Center
Number of people fed per day: 1,500-2,300
Bon Appétit chef since: 1996
Farm to Fork farmer: Maryann Carpenter, Coastal Organics
"One of the reasons Bon Appétit Management Company makes such a huge difference in the world of food is because we are taking the time to educate the people we touch every day. And because we reach so many people with our food and our story, we can make a real impact. It’s really cool that I get to go to work every day and be a missionary as well as a chef."
Why I'm a Chef:
I'm self-taught and have worked in kitchens in various capacities since I’ve been old enough to work. I love the energy in the kitchen, the camaraderie, and the opportunity to prepare food that people will remember forever. A recent high point of my career was being invited to cook at The James Beard awards in 2008. The theme was Artisanal
What Sustainable Food Means to Me:
Sustainable food is only sustainable if it’s something people can incorporate into their lifestyles joyfully. People will embrace sustainable eating if it truly feeds them and adds to their enjoyment of life. That’s why it’s our job to make sustainable eating delicious and exciting. We aren’t asking people to give up the foods they love. What we are asking is that they make occasional choices or small adjustments in their eating habits that can collectively make a big difference for the planet. And then we show them how many different choices there are. We’re not saying, “don’t have delicious foods.” We are saying, “have the fruit instead of the fries sometimes,” or, “try the turkey or mushroom burger instead of the beef burger once a week,” or, maybe, “choose a local apple instead of a banana.” That’s when we get these “ah hah” moments when, for example, people realize that pizza doesn’t have to have cheese; that maybe it can have smoked turkey with roasted figs and balsamic vinegar instead.
Learning about the science behind the Low Carbon Diet initiative, a diet designed to lower the carbon footprint of food, made me a better chef. In addition to considering the flavor, texture, and nutrition in a dish, I also have to take into account the carbon footprint. It adds an entire new element to play with. We’ve ended up cooking even more innovative food. When I started reworking menus for Low Carbon Diet, I was amazed at how much I relied on cheese. Now, instead of cheese on a salad, I might use
Why Bon Appétit Management Company is Different:
We are a company that started with a mission of making the best possible food and that’s what led to all of our initiatives. We think generations ahead. Our Eat Local Challenge started four years ago and now individuals and other businesses are purchasing more of their foods locally, which has made a huge difference in promoting the world of American artisan foods. Low Carbon Diet and all of our sustainable sourcing guidelines show people how to eat well and have a lasting impact on the planet. Because we are committed to influencing the people we serve and our colleagues in the food community, we’ll keep raising the bar for better food and a healthier planet.