Each year, Bon Appétiters celebrate our Eat Local Challenge, with teams across the country planning and preparing at least one 100% local dish, with all of the ingredients (including oils, fats, sweeteners, spices, and herbs — the only exception allowed is salt) sourced from within 150 miles.
This year, our teams celebrated our 18th annual Eat Local Challenge by going beyond simply serving delicious local food to helping guests shop locally, too.
Many teams put together local shopping lists, filling in a template that divides ingredients into common categories, like starches, proteins, fruits, vegetables, and more. Guests could access the shopping list virtually or pick it up in their café, then use it to find local items in their area. Some teams purchased products from local farmers, artisans, and makers, and created pop-up farmstands in their cafés. Others organized full-fledged farmers’ markets on their campuses, inviting local producers to sell their wares directly to guests, and guests to engage directly with the people that feed them.
Regardless of the form that each Eat Local Challenge event took, our teams showed off what makes Bon Appétit so special – a grassroots approach to creating vibrant local food systems, rooted in the diversity of the communities we serve. Read on to learn more about how Eat Local Challenge took shape at Bon Appétit accounts across the country.
The Bon Appétit at Aurora team in Pittsburgh, PA, held a farmers’ market on campus, inviting local producers to connect with employees of the self-driving technology company. The team served up a delicious set of all-local dishes, including an eggplant and mozzarella cheese dish with ingredients from Janoski’s Farm, as well as Footprint Farm oven-baked chicken with macaroni and cheese featuring Middlefield Cheese Co-op cheddar. 412 Food Rescue, a local food recovery organization, was also in attendance, and ensured that extra food was donated to those in need.
Bakery 300, Oracle Corporation’s on-site bakery, offered a craveable array of savory local options. The team served up a bacon, tomato, and cheese breakfast focaccia that featured Devils Gulch Ranch Bacon, Capay Mills Hard Red Wheat Flour, and Bellwether Farms Cheese. Oracle employees were also treated to an egg, bacon, and cheese sourdough English muffin sandwich that featured heirloom tomatoes from Happy Boy Farms and eggs from Glaum Egg Ranch.
California College of the Arts
California College of the Arts served up an engaging Eat Local Challenge experience to students, with Executive Chef Peyton Poulson stationed on the line to speak about the event and the creative set of all-local menu items. Students enjoyed Hodo Tofu served with caramelized Farmer Fresh mushrooms and honey from Brentwood Marshall Farm, as well as coffee-rubbed bone-in pork chops topped with Frog Hollow Farms peach compote and sweet potato mash.
Capital Group Irvine
Executive Chef Jose Gonzalez and the Bon Appétit at Capital Group Irvine team invited many of their local partners including Villa Roma Farms, Meji Tofu, and Sweetcie Farms to campus to set up a farmers’ market. Ingredients from the vendors were featured on the team’s Eat Local Challenge menu as well, with a Meji Tofu Peach Salad with heirloom tomatoes and local red onions taking center stage.
Claremont McKenna College
The Bon Appétit team at Claremont McKenna College brought a local dairy farm, Hollandia Dairy, to campus to engage with students, faculty, and staff on campus. Hollandia set up “blender bikes” which allowed students to make smoothies using the farm’s milk, and other local ingredients. West Coast Fellow Hillary Swimmer also joined Executive Chef Allan Gonzalez and General Manager Pam Franco for a stellar all-local meal that included a beet and arugula salad, pizza with home-ground flour, stuffed mushroom caps, and strawberry shortcake.
At Colorado College, in Colorado Springs, CO, students were treated to a seasonal feast of grilled chicken from Red Bird Chicken, as well as assorted local vegetables from Milberger Farms, Elevation Farm and Orchard, San Luis Hemp, White Mountain Farm, and Hobbs Family Farm.
Cornell College Executive Chef David Smigo and the Cornell College team rose to the challenge with an Italian-style agrodulce, baked Heartland Fresh Family Farm chicken, and Buffalo Ridge Orchard tomatoes and apples. The team also showed off Iowa’s local grains with a dish featuring Puregreenearth Farm polenta with WW Homestead Dairy butter.
Case Western Reserve University
The Bon Appétit at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) team held Eat Local Challenge events at four cafés across campus – and at each, culinary teams wowed students with a diverse and creative array of dishes. Leutner Commons featured barbecue-glazed tofu with green beans and blistered grape tomatoes over grits as well as slow-roasted chili brisket with sweet maple-barbecue glaze served with herb-roasted Yukon Gold potatoes and corn on the cob. Fribley Commons served sofrito-braised beef with green beans, sautéed mixed greens, and herb-roasted potatoes served with a side of grits. Meanwhile, BRB Café and TVUC Café both served herb-marinated beef tips with roasted vegetables. These hearty meals utilized meats and vegetables from many of CWRU’s Farm to Fork partners, but emphasized ingredients from University Farm, CWRU’s campus farm, which also composts any food waste generated in the cafés.
The Bon Appétit at Denison’s team close relationships with local farmers and artisans were on display during this year’s Eat Local Challenge. The team held an afternoon-long farmers’ market outside of the school’s Slayter Market café, with Sunbeam Organics, Birds Haven Farms, Madelyn’s of Granville, Roots Wellness Bar, Harvest Pizza, and Latshaw Apiaries setting up stands.
Eat Local Challenge was a full-day affair at DePauw University, with the Bon Appétit team featuring local breakfast noshes like Hoosier Growers breakfast potatoes, a chile relleno bake with Ullem Farm poblanos and Spring Valley Farms eggs, and bacon from Cameron Farms. The festivities continued through the evening, with Cook Brooke Sieg serving students Hoosier Tofu Co. okara and mushroom cakes, an Ullem Farm vegetable medley, and Local Farms Harvest braised beef.
Education First San Diego
The Education First San Diego team offered an on-site meal and a local farm salad kit guests could take home with them. The team served local and line-caught albacore tuna with a Polito Farms grapefruit ceviche. The salad kit consisted of local greens, with a refreshing Polito Farms grapefruit and olive oil dressing.
At Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, the Bon Appétit team transformed the campus’ Little Pub into the site of an all-local feast. Dishes included local cucumber salad, roasted local vegetables, roasted delicata squash, herb roasted chicken, and farro pilaf, all made with ingredients from eight different local farmers, orchardists, and artisans.
Employees at Illumina were treated to two all-local burgers during this year’s Eat Local Challenge. The team created a portobello burger with San Joaquin gold smoked cheddar, Allstar Organics dry-farmed tomatoes, and County Line baby head lettuce. For meat-eaters, the team served a Niman Ranch beef burger with a house-made aioli made from Glaum Ranch eggs and local olive oil.
The Bon Appétit team at a KKR location in northern California showcased the end of summer bounty with fresh, inventive Eat Local Challenge dishes like Bellwether Farms ricotta and baby heirloom tomatoes, as well as a salad featuring Lolla Rosa greens, local nectarine, and goat cheese.
The University of La Verne
As perennial Eat Local Challenge stalwarts, the University of La Verne team wowed their guests with a menu that featured fresh, colorful local vegetables. The team plated a sundried tomato wrap with Sungold cherry tomatoes, Babe Farms mixed field greens, and Di Stefano smoked mozzarella, as well as a local peach salad with grapefruit, goat cheese, wild arugula, Castelfranco radicchio, and Easter radishes.
At Lafayette College’s Marquis Dining Hall, Executive Chef Terry Nielsen put together an all-local dinner that included grilled kielbasa and mushroom beef sliders, barbecue baked beans, honey-glazed carrots and leeks, and sweet potato salad with an apple cider vinaigrette. The team also hosted the owner of Farm to Fork vendor Happy Valley Meat Company, Dan Honig, who helped Terry serve meals to students throughout the dinner meal period.
The Bon Appétit team at LC Kitchen in Plano, TX took Eat Local Challenge head-on with a seasonal summer panini that featured Young’s Greenhouse tomatoes, Texas Pecan Company pine nuts, Brazos Valley cheese, Empire Bakery sourdough, and melty mozzarella from Dallas Mozzarella Company. The sandwich was served with house-made chips and a garnish of basil, fresh from the LC Kitchen chef’s garden, steps away from the café.
Mills College at Northeastern University
Students at Mills College were treated to an Eat Local Challenge lunch at the school’s Founder’s Commons. Dishes included a host of ingredients from the Mills Farm, a campus farm with close ties to General Manager Douglas DiGiovanni and the Bon Appétit team on campus. The team showcased a wide variety of fresh, local ingredients on their Eat Local Challenge menu, featuring dishes like Marin Sun Farms herb-crusted chicken, Full Belly Farm blistered green beans, and sautéed kale from Mills Farm.
At Pepperdine University, a newly opened Bon Appétit account, the Bon Appétit team, led by Resident District Manager John Leone and Executive Chef Jeff Williams, collaborated with the school’s Center For Sustainability on this year’s Eat Local Challenge event. The team hosted Lusamerica Seafood, a women-owned local supplier of seafood, who engaged with students throughout the event. Menu items included line caught rock cod with pan roasted yum yum pepper, Tutti Fruit Farms roasted squash, Channel Island Farms pan sautéed broccoli and carrots, as well pan-seared Meiji tofu and seasonal vegetables.
Pacific Union College
Howell Mountain Farms paid a special visit to Pacific Union College during this year’s Eat Local Challenge. The farm occupies land owned by the college and supports its mission by providing naturally-grown local vegetables, fruits, and flowers to students and employees as well as to the residents of Angwin and the Napa Valley. Students had the opportunity to buy fresh produce from Howell Mountain Farm while enjoying a stellar all-local meal.
Roger Williams University
The Bon Appétit at Roger Williams team rolled out the red carpet for students, showcasing the bounty of Rhode Island’s coastal region. Upon arriving in the dining hall, students were met with an impressive array of local options, from fresh-pressed apple cider, to all-local charcuterie boards and desserts. The team dazzled students, faculty, and staff with a full raw bar that showcased local clams, oysters, and ceviche.
St. Edward’s University
Executive Chef Tanner Harris and the St. Edward’s team partnered with the university’s student garden during this year’s Eat Local Challenge. The school’s Students for Sustainability club oversees the garden, and harvested basil, kale, chives, and parsley, which were added to a 100% local dish later in the day.
University of the Pacific
The University of the Pacific team made ample use of their many relationships with local farmers and makers, crafting a variety of dishes that showcased the ingredients of California’s northern central valley. A favorite of students was the Zuckerman Farm russet baked potato, with roasted mushrooms, lentil dal, green onions, Clover Stornetta butter, and parsley. Among other tasty noshes, a yuba chile verde with Spanish black rice, black beans, and fajita vegetables stood out.
University of San Francisco
Resident District Manager Crystal Chun Wong and the team offered students a delectable all-local meal while using the event to celebrate Juan Santos, a Bon Appétit employee who has worked at the University of San Francisco since 2005. Juan’s work has had a lasting impact on the school, as he has worked in a wide variety of roles at both the Market Café, Open Door, and even in catering.
Vassar College offered an all-local lunch at the Home station of Gordon Commons. The menu featured honey apple chicken with blistered tomato and onion chutney, herb-roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, and a medley of roasted rainbow carrots, beets, and turnips. The school’s large collection of local suppliers including Murray’s Chicken, Moon’s Gold Apiary, Hepworth Farms, Hudson Valley Harvest, Ronnybrook Farms, Sun Sprout Farms, Rockhedge Herb Farm, Migliorelli Farm, Dagele Bros., Dwight Miller Orchards, and Red Jacket Orchards, all contributed ingredients.
This year, Resident District Manager Michael Strumpf and the Bon Appétit at Wesleyan team held a massive outdoor Eat Local Challenge party on the university’s quad. Students feasted on a tomato mozzarella salad with cider syrup, fried chicken marinated in apple cider brine with cider jus; graham flour and cornmeal clam fritters; herb-marinated haddock tacos in a soft corn tortilla with crudito slaw, as well as blueberry and strawberry buckle with oat flour and maple syrup.
The Whitman College team brought their friends from Frog Hollow Farm to campus to talk about their community-oriented work, as well as to sell some of the dazzling produce they grow outside of Walla Walla, WA, where Whitman is located. Under the leadership of Executive Chef Jon Sodini, the team served an all-local squash ratatouille, to the delight of guests.
A Transportation Technology Company
At a national transportation technology company with offices across the country, our teams went above and beyond to stage farmers’ markets, concoct a bevy of seasonal vegan and vegetarian dishes, offer a local meal kit giveaway, and create a private chef’s table experience for 10 lucky employees. At the private meal, employees were treated to local nonalcoholic sparkling rosé, locally crafted canapés, and eight delectable courses that were expertly paired with local mocktails. Some highlights included a carrot tartare that was ground tableside, as well as a whole wheat raviolo with house-made mascarpone. Several other courses featured a number of ingredients that were harvested from the company’s rooftop gardens.