Chefs reveal the joys of local sourcing for Bon Appétit Management Company’s Eat Local Challenge
Palo Alto, Calif. (September 17, 2007) – You wouldn’t expect a chef who cracks open a can to be a hero of the local food movement. But when Chef Reuben Haag of Hamilton College in upstate New York opens a can of his house-made applesauce and pairs it with a roasted local chicken and salt potatoes, you’ve got the best of the growing season and a delicious example of Northeast regional cuisine on your plate.
Bon Appétit Management Company’s third-annual Eat Local Challenge is September 25. On that day, more than 200,000 diners in over 400 cafés will eat a meal prepared with ingredients from within 150 miles of the café kitchen. From Monterey, California to Middletown, Connecticut, diners at Bon Appétit cafés across the nation can choose a lunch that is 100 percent local, like the one described above.
Every year since 2005, the Eat Local Challenge has provided an opportunity for Bon Appétit chefs to think creatively. This year they started early: canning preserves and blueberry pie filling and reaching out into their community of farmers and artisanal producers for cheese, rustic loaves and honey.
Chef Leon Trevino, of St. Edward’s University in Austin, had an unusual challenge this year. “I’ve participated in the Eat Local Challenge before -in Chicago! So now I’m in southern Texas, the growing season is different, and it’s been an unusually cool and rainy summer, which hit growers hard. I worked furiously, meeting ranchers and farmers. I found terrific grass-fed bison and Texas basmati rice to work with,” he said. Trevino’s lunch of Thunder Heart bison braised with eggplants, peppers and tomatoes will be seasoned with thyme and sage from his own garden.
“The Eat Local Challenge is a simple meal that makes a big statement,” said Fedele Bauccio, CEO of Bon Appétit Management Company. “The ingredients in your typical chef salad have traveled as many as 1,000 to 2,500 miles to reach your mouth. They’ve been processed, they’re not at their freshest, and you taste that. Our customers experience a real shift in consciousness when they bite into a salad that was built from ripe ingredients grown in their own community.”
The goal of the Eat Local Challenge is to help diners learn how their food choices affect not only their local community, but have ripple effects on a global scale. The advantages of local foods include freshness and ripe flavor. Supporting local farms and farmers keeps money in the community, encouraging more growth, use of traditional farming methods, cultivation of more tasty varieties of fruits and vegetables, and preserving the beauty of the agrarian landscape.
U.S. consumers have been grappling with big ideas about local food. Projects as diverse in scope and audience as the Slow Food Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT) project, the 100 Mile Diet and Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle brought these issues to the fore. The Eat Local Challenge helps illustrate in a way people can touch and taste the rewards of buying close to home.
“We have so much fun trying to outdo ourselves every year. From figuring out ‘What will I substitute for peppercorns as a seasoning?’ to hoping this pushes me to discover a local farmer or cheesemaker I haven’t met before -the challenge is a great experience,” said Chef Peter Abrahamson of St. Olaf College in southeastern Minnesota. “An additional reward is that our customers eat well, and we use a positive dining experience to raise awareness about local food and what we do.”
About Bon Appétit Management Company
Bon Appétit Management Company (www.bamco.com ) is an onsite restaurant company offering full food service management to corporations, universities and specialty venues. Bon Appétit is committed to sourcing sustainable, local foods for all cafés throughout the country. A pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, Bon Appétit has developed programs with Environmental Defense, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, the Humane Society of the United States, and other leading conservation organizations. Based in Palo Alto, CA, Bon Appétit has more than 400 cafés in 28 states, including Oracle Corporation, American University and the Getty Center.