How to Disrupt a Stale Food-Service Industry

In the following video, we hear from Fedele Bauccio, founder and CEO of Bon Appetit Management. His company has built its reputation on locally sourced, seasonal, healthy foods and is actively involved in sustainability issues affecting every aspect of the food industry.

As it began to expand beyond the fertile valleys of California, Bauccio's company faced new challenges in its mission to work with fresh, seasonal, locally sourced food. We discuss how Bon Appetit has dealt with those challenges by working with local farmers and institutions to both grow and preserve more food.

A transcript follows the video.

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Isaac Pino: I'm just curious. Being located in Silicon Valley or the San Francisco area, a very fertile region, within 150 miles you can find all types of foods. What is your experience when you go to other areas that might have a monoculture or might only be suitable for certain types of crops?

Fedele Bauccio: Yeah, that's a good question. As we started to move to the Midwest and to the East, it was much more difficult for us to work with local suppliers, so we had to change our thinking and say to ourselves, "In order for this to work, we have to even be more seasonal. We have to focus really on root vegetables in the wintertime."

I am such a purist that if I didn't have to serve tomatoes in the wintertime I never would serve them, but I can't get away with that. I have to serve them. They taste like ... they're horrible in the winter time, as you know.

What we have done is we've worked with local farmers to build greenhouses and hothouses to grow vegetables. We've done some experiments on canning, so in the summertime we're canning and preserving fruits and vegetables that we can use in the wintertime.

We've created gardens on college campuses, and even in corporations. At eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY  ) , for example, we have a huge garden that runs year-round that our chefs tend, and so forth.

On the East Coast, we've worked with them to create hothouses, and we've tried to change our menus in such a way so that we can still purchase at least 30 to 40% of our product locally. There's not enough product in the United States for us to buy everything locally. It's impossible.

Whole Foods (NASDAQ: WFM  ) can't do it; probably John Mackey told you that. Chipotle (NYSE: CMG  ) can't do it. Those sustainable companies that are in our space, there's just not enough supply, so we've got to hope that, over time, that this is going to change.

I think it is. We're creating more regional food sheds in different areas, and so forth, slowly, but it's not easy to do this.


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