Happy 30th Birthday, Bon Appétit: Imagining Our Future
I remember so clearly Bon Appétit’s first office, in an old warehouse across from the San Francisco police station. I had a card table for a desk; no computers, just a yellow pad to keep my notes and thoughts.
I was feeling alone and somewhat apprehensive. It was difficult leaving the security of corporate life, but I just knew the time was right to make my dream come true. I wanted to make a difference, to create a company with a sense of purpose — a new model that would disrupt the industry.
Those first few years we struggled, always worrying if we could pay our bills and make the payroll, but we never gave up hope that we would somehow be successful. I had a wonderful partner in the late Ernie Collins, whose steady hand and calm demeanor enabled me hit the road to try and sell new business. We counterbalanced each other in the best of ways.
My imagination has always been active, able to drift and daydream, to see things differently and to create a path of determination. Founding Bon Appétit required total focus 24 hours a day, with a consistent message of quality, fresh, authentic food, cooked from scratch by talented chefs. It would be a restaurant company that would change the contract industry.
Attracting talented chefs was not easy. The contract side of the industry was not known for great food and was certainly not as sexy as working in a restaurant. Giving chefs the opportunity to create custom menus, source locally to find the exact ingredients they wanted, was key to persuading them to join us. There would be no corporate recipes, I said, no menu cycles — just seasonal, fresh authentic food that they could be proud of. That was our formula for success.
As we developed our sustainability initiatives, the Bon Appétit brand became stronger and it pushed us to new heights. We knew what we were doing was not only good for business, but necessary for community and the planet.
Over the years I have been blessed to have such incredibly talented people who believe in our Dream. Yes, all of you are amazing! We have never lost focus. We have stayed true to our core values of great sustainable food and working hard every day to innovate for our clients. We have been obsessed with quality in everything we do. As we celebrate our 30 years, let’s remember there is so much more we have to achieve in order to continue our journey. We must continue to innovate with new ideas, to create new experiences, and to deliver on our promises. We have to do more to ensure that through our sourcing, we are building a new model of agriculture that will help future generations.
“I am as energized as ever for us to continue the Dream. Thank you for 30 unbelievable years of joy.”
The development of our associates is also key for our future. Helping them to see the Dream and believe in our values is an important first step. I have always believed that promotion from within is critical to maintaining our culture in the future.
We should never forget that our focus is delivering great food made with simple, quality ingredients that bring out amazing flavors. Authentic, fresh, and flavorful food will continue to be vital as we continue to lead the industry.
I am also grateful for being able to touch the lives of so many, not only with jobs, but with a new sense of caring to restore this Earth with justice, hope, and love. Your passion and actions are making a difference in helping nourish future generations toward a more sustainable future.
I am as energized as ever for us to continue the Dream. Thank you for 30 unbelievable years of joy.