Bon Appétit Management Company Revives Endangered Foods

Bon Appétit Management Company Partners with Slow Food USA in national culinary challenge to bring back rare flavors from American history

06 Jun 2006

WHAT: This summer, Bon Appétit Management Company (BAMCO), with the help of Slow Food USA and their Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT) project, will challenge chefs at 400 cafés around the United States to revitalize foods that are in danger of extinction.

The 2006 Culinary Challenge invites BAMCO chefs to prepare an original meal using one of ten endangered beans and then explore opportunities with local farmers to cultivate some of the 750 American foods listed by RAFT as endangered. Judges will select semi-finalists for a hands-on cooking challenge in San Francisco this August, where chefs will prepare a menu using a market basket of seasonal RAFT foods.

The judges: The BAMCO chef entries will be judged by an impressive group of chefs, farmers, food writers and sustainable agriculture experts including: John Ash, Joyce Goldstein, Traci des Jardins, Bruce Cole and Gary Nabhan (founder of RAFT).

The beans: The ten heirloom varieties of beans -including the Tepary, the Rio Zape, and the Red Cranberry -are indigenous to the Americas and have long and rich culinary histories. The beans will be provided by Native Seed/SEARCH and Seed Savers Exchange.

WHEN: August 9, 2006. Hands-on cooking challenge held in San Francisco.
Open to the media; please RSVP to [email protected]

WHY: Given its own commitment to local and organic foods, Bon Appétit Management Company has found Slow Food USA and RAFT to be the perfect partners for the 2006 Culinary Challenge. RAFT has identified over 750 distinctively American foods as endangered, in large part because the commercial food system promotes a small number of commodity crops and livestock species. This list represents a potential loss of 750 regional flavors and culinary traditions that are important to America’s cultural heritage.

WHO: Bon Appétit Management Company is an onsite restaurant company recognized nationally for its commitment to local and organic food with programs such as “Farm to Fork,” which requires chefs to source ingredients from local producers. Bon Appétit offers the highest quality cuisine while supporting small farms and
sustainable agriculture.

RAFT: Seeking to preserve America’s diverse food supply and culinary traditions through initiatives like the Heritage Food Grow Out -which will send endangered crops to over 1,000 specialty farmers around the U.S. -the RAFT project works to restore endangered species, to revive regional food traditions and to improve American gastronomy. The seven organizations involved in RAFT are: American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, Center for Sustainable Environments, Chefs Collaborative, Cultural Conservancy, Native Seed/SEARCH, Seed Savers Exchange and Slow Food USA.