Celebrating our farmers annually with a 100% local meal
Six years after we launched our Farm to Fork program, but long before the word “locavore” entered common usage, we decided to challenge our chefs to hold an event with a meal made completely from local ingredients (defined as coming from within a 150-mile radius of the café). If they wanted to serve a turkey sandwich, for example, then not just the turkey, but also the yeast and wheat for the bread, the milk for the cheese, the eggs for the mayo, et cetera all had to be locally grown. The only exception allowed was salt.
We thought that this challenge would illustrate the homogenization of our regional food choices, but we found the opposite was true. Our chefs were easily able to create amazingly diverse meals using ingredients specific to their food sheds — and an annual tradition was born.
Eat Local Challenge is hands-down our teams’ and our guests’ favorite companywide event. We love celebrating our local farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food craftspeople and explaining to our guests why supporting them is so vital to our food supply. Although we serve locally grown food every day in our cafés, highlighting this extreme example of a 100% local meal has started lively conversations amongst guests and our staff. We are proud to be the first food service company to create and celebrate the Eat Local Challenge annually.
Read about 2013’s Eat Local Challenge in Bravo, our company magazine.