On Tuesday, September 24, Bon Appétit Management Company at Wheaton College will showcase its commitment to local food by preparing meals made entirely from ingredients harvested within 150 miles of campus. The only exception is salt.
The annual Eat Local Challenge is an initiative of Bon Appétit Management Company, the restaurant management company that provides food services to the campus. For this year’s Eat Local Challenge, Executive Chef John Krickl will prepare dishes featuring local ingredients, including roasted chicken with fresh thyme and baby sweet peppers, using the bounty from local purveyors such as TJ’s Poultry Farm in Piper City, Ill. and Windy City Harvest in Chicago.
“This is my 5th year of the Eat Local Challenge, and it never fails to be one of my favorite events we do,” says Raul Delgado, General Manager of Bon Appétit. “I love giving some well-deserved attention to the people who grow our food, and making our guests aware of why and how they too can join the local food movement.”
Eat Local Challenge began as an outgrowth of Bon Appétit’s Farm to Fork program, a companywide commitment to buying locally that it formalized in 1999. Krickl and other Bon Appétit chefs are required to purchase at least 20 percent of their ingredients from small, owner-operated farms and ranches within 150 miles.
By buying directly from local farms, Bon Appétit plays a vital role in the local food movement and helps small producers not only stay in business, but flourish.
As part of this year’s Eat Local Challenge, Bon Appétit at Wheaton College will share tips on how to “go local.” This will include sharing a list of five locally produced foods, like fruit and eggs, that are easy to find, as well as locally available substitutions for items that might be difficult, such as olive oil and sugar.
The company is also sponsoring a local food photography contest on social media. Guests are encouraged to take a photo of their 100 percent local Bon Appétit meals on Eat Local Challenge Day, then post it to Twitter or Instagram with the guest’s location and the hashtag #eatlocalchallenge. The most artful effort nationwide will win a $200 gift certificate to a local farm-to-table restaurant, and signed copies of Michael Pollan’s Cooked and Marion Nestle’s Eat Drink Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food Politics.
Wheaton Colleges’s three cafés are open to the public. For more information, including hours and prices, visit wheaton.cafebonappetit.com.