Just as individuals set goals for themselves so that they may reach their full potential, so too must companies. Food service provider Bon Appetit Management Company has set an ambitious goal of partnering with 1,000 Farm to Fork vendors by next year. By 2011, the sustainably minded onsite restaurant company will have 1,000 local farmers or suppliers that provide fruits, vegetables, meat and more to over 400 Bon Appetit cafes around the country, all from within 150 miles of the kitchen.
In an effort to meet this aggressive timeline, Bon Appetit has created a 'forager' position within the company, the first job of its kind for a national food service operation. Fifteen existing Bon Appetit chefs and managers have been appointed as foragers, shifting their responsibilities to focus on finding hidden gems from local farms. While every Bon Appetit chef has a passion for sourcing the best available ingredients, these foragers will dedicate a significant amount of their time to finding the finest, yet-to-be discovered food producers in their respective regions.
The Bon Appetit foragers will be integral to the company's mission, bringing local food from nearby farmers or artisanal producers to the nearest cafe, where it will then be used to prepare inventive and delicious meals that feed the local community.
By establishing 15 distinct forager positions in each region of operations, Bon Appetit is ensuring even the smallest regional suppliers have the opportunity to be discovered. The Bon Appetit foraging team will help connect real food producers to area chefs, bridging the gap between small farms and the restaurant industry.
'Sourcing the best local ingredients has always been part of my job as Executive Chef, and now as a forager, I'm happy to focus more on this vital role,' said John O'Neill, who is now both Executive Chef at Cisco in Boxboro, Massachusetts and the region's primary forager. 'Massachusetts is a colder climate, but amazing regional delicacies can be found here if you know where to look. This year, I found more than 20 new suppliers, including an incredible local garlic producer. I'm excited to be able to use their products in our fall menus.'
This program is just one more part of Bon Appetit's groundbreaking Farm to Fork Program, a company-wide commitment to buying locally that started in 1999. Buying food from local producers is important to Bon Appetit because it is one of the main ways the company can support small-scale agriculture and contribute to the development of regional foodsheds.
The Bon Appetit foraging team is not only helping to support the local economy, but also tracking down the best ingredients available for all 400+ cafes around the country. It's the best of both worlds - ensuring smaller producers have access to the market while making sure the food cooked in Bon Appetit cafes is made from the finest ingredients the regional food supply has to offer.
About Bon Appetit Management Company
Bon Appetit Management Company (www.bamco.com) is an onsite restaurant company offering full food service management to corporations, universities and specialty venues. Bon Appetit is committed to sourcing sustainable, local foods for all cafes throughout the country. A pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, Bon Appetit has developed programs addressing local purchasing, the overuse of antibiotics, sustainable seafood, cage-free eggs, the connection between food and climate change, and most recently, farm workers' rights. The company has received numerous awards for its work from organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council, Seafood Choices Alliance, The Humane Society of the United States, and Food Alliance. Based in Palo Alto, CA, Bon Appetit has more than 400 cafes in 30 states, including eBay, the University of Pennsylvania and the Getty Center.