Participating in the farm-to-fork movement allows restaurants to offer the kind of food that more diners are demanding: fresh, local, organic and healthy. Connecting with farms or investing in growing their own food also gives restaurants an opportunity to build connections in their communities and foster a richer, more sustainable local food culture. Catherine Lederer, Vice President of Food & Beverage for Chop’t Creative Salad Company answered SmartBrief’s questions on the farm-to-fork philosophy.

SB: What does the farm-to-fork philosophy mean to Chop’t?
Chop’t: “Farm to fork” is about bringing the freshest local produce to our guests and about supporting local family farmers. For us especially, it’s also about partnering with farms and suppliers – like FreeBird Chicken, Plainville Farms and Niman Ranch to name a few – who share our values and support sustainable, responsible, humane and natural practices.

Why is this philosophy important to your food?
Our goal is always to invest in quality ingredients, and this ties into a humane supply chain and the way animals are raised. It does contribute to the eating quality of the products. For example, FreeBird Chicken’s practices make for a better-tasting product. The texture of the product is better, and you can see that if you taste side by side with conventional. We identified with FreeBird’s values, but in our taste tests, it was also the better-tasting product.

Why is it important to your brand to embrace the farm-to-fork philosophy?
Really the farm-to-fork philosophy is an extension of our motto “Better Tastes Better” that drives all of our decisions. Investing in the best ingredients is critical to what we do – which is feeding our guests the best salads.

What are the challenges you face while implementing this strategy?
Partnering with better suppliers has led to a significant increase in our food costs, but we were able to find efficiencies in our business to offset the costs. It’s definitely an investment, but one we think is absolutely worth it.

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