Today when you open a magazine or turn on your television you’re likely to see a chef. Chefs have crossed the threshold of mainstream pop culture and now are more than just cooks – they are role models, change agents and trusted authorities on what we should and shouldn’t be eating. Every day when a chef’s steps into their kitchen, they have the power to transform good ingredients into good food.
But what is good food? To me, an avowed foodie and food industry veteran, good food goes beyond just what’s on a diner’s plate and affects every link in our food supply chain. From the environment and animals to a restaurants staff and guests - as well as state, regional and national economies—good food is beneficial for every link in our food supply chain.
That leaves the question: how can you find good food? Today, eaters are faced with an overwhelming array of choices when determining where to dine. To navigate the proliferation of food choices, eaters rely on various ratings, lists and awards to point them in the right direction. However, these lists are based on opaque standards and subjective criteria that ultimately don’t help eaters.
So, what if we flipped the model? What if there was a new model based on objective standards and transparent criteria? A model that goes beyond the taste of food and puts chefs and restaurants in control? What might this new recognition and reward system look like?
In an attempt to flip the model and change the way we view and value food, I founded the Good Food Media Network a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to educating eaters by cultivating a conversation and community around the people and businesses changing the food system for good.
With this mission in mind, the Good Food Media Network produced and released the inaugural Good Food 100 Restaurants list, an annual strategic rating system that measures the impact of chefs and restaurants purchasing and sustainable business practices.
The list, compiled based on self-reported annual food purchasing data and independently verified by NSF Responsible Sourcing, included restaurants from every region of the country; representing five categories (fine dining, casual dining, fast casual, food service and catering).
Early in the development process, influential culinary trailblazers, including: Mike Anthony (Gramercy Tavern, Untitled, Union Square Hospitality Group), Rick Bayless (Frontera, Tortas by Frontera), Alex Seidel (Fruition, Mercantile & Provisions), Kelly Whitaker (Basta), Suzanne Goin (Lucques, A.O.C., Larder), Hugh Acheson (5&10), Jennifer Jasinski (Rioja), Jonathon Sawyer (Team Sawyer Restaurants), William Dissen (The Marketplace Restaurant), Stephen Stryjewski (Cochon, Butcher, Herbsaint, and Peche), Steven Satterfield (Miller Union), Paul Reilly (Beast + Bottle and Coperta), David LeFevre (Manhattan Beach Post, Fishing With Dynamite, and The Arthur J), Andrea Reusing (Lantern and The Durham), Renee Erickson (Walrus & Carpenter, The Whale Wins, Barnacle Bar, Bar Melusine, Bateau, General Porpoise) and Bill Telepan (Oceana) signed on to take the survey, demonstrating their commitment to sustainability and good food systems.
Photo Courtesy of Trip Advisor
In total, 90 restaurants participated in the Good Food 100 inaugural survey—self-reporting their purchasing data from the previous year.
After being evaluated, the 90 participating restaurants were rated with two to six links—symbolizing links in the food chain—based on the percent of total food costs spent to support state, regional and national ‘good food’ producers and purveyors. Restaurants with six links represented the top cohort and reported the greatest percentage of good food purchases. The next cohort earned five rings and so on. 42 restaurants received six links.
Photo Courtesy of Hotel Milo Santa Barbara
To accompany and complement the inaugural list, I (the Good Food Media Network) in partnership with the Business Research Division (BRD) of the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder, used the data to produce an economic analysis measuring the participating restaurants’ food purchasing decisions on local, regional and national economies. The results were astounding.
The report found that the overall food purchases by the 90 participating Good Food 100 Restaurants totaled $94.8M in 2016, of which $68.1M were derived from good food purchases. To top it off, the $68.1M in good food purchases resulted in a $199M economic impact on the U.S.!
Regions that reported the highest percentage of good food purchases included the Far West region (90 percent) and the Mideast region (89 percent). Good food purchases within region were highest for the Mideast region (100 percent), Great Lakes region (99 percent), and the combined Southwest and Plains region (99 percent).
By segment, the Casual Dining restaurants reported the greatest total food purchases ($30.7M), and hence, had the greatest economic impact ($90.6M). This segment also reported the greatest level of good food purchases—$22.5M, which translated to $67.6M in total economic benefits.
These numbers are game-changing. They demonstrate the visionary power of all chefs and restaurants to fuel environmental and social change and drive economic growth. Think: if a small number of chefs have such a profound impact, just imagine the effect of hundreds or thousands across the country.
The sky is the limit for the Good Food Media Network. We hope that every restaurant, food truck, food supplier, etc. will annually take the Good Food 100 Restaurants survey. My personal goal is for the Good Food 100 logo to be a stamp of approval on menus and something that eater’s look for and must find when choosing where to dine. As transparency increasingly becomes the most important item on the menu, this—the Good Food 100—is the future.
Personally, I am over the top excited that we are on the cusp of turning the page on not only a new year but also on a new 10-year window of opportunities and possibilities!
You may be thinking, whoa…I am just embracing the fall season…yikes… it is tough to think about a new decade!
Yet it is this groundwork, this forward thought that you put in place TODAY that will propel you and lead you into greatness in 2020 and beyond. Designing a new decade rests in your ability to vision, in your willingness to be curious, in your awareness of where you are now and what you most want to curate. Essentially, curating what's next is about tapping into today with confidence, conviction, and decision. Leading YOU starts now. This is your new next. It is your choice.
Sometimes to get to that 'next', you need to take a step back to reflect. Please pardon my asking you to spend time in yesterday. Those who know me personally, know that I created and continue to grow my business based on enabling the present moment as a springboard for living your legacy. So, indulge me here! True, I am asking you to peek into the past, yet it is only in order for you to bring the essence of that past forward into this moment called NOW.
One of the best ways to tap into what's next is to clarify what drives you. To design a new decade, ask yourself this question about the past ten years:
What worked? What were my successes?
Make a list of your achievements big and small. Don't type them, but rather use ink and paper and sit with and savor them. Move your thoughts and your successes from your head, to your heart, to your pen, to the paper. Remember that on the flip side of goals not attained and New Year's resolutions abandoned, there was more than likely some traction and action that moved you forward, even if the end result was not what you expected. Once you have a full list of a decade's worth of personal and professional accomplishments, think about how this makes you feel. Do you remember celebrating all of them? My guess is no. So, celebrate them now. Give them new life by validating them. Circle the successes that resonate with you most right now. Where can you lean into those accomplishments as you power into the decade ahead?
Now comes a tougher question, one that I used myself in my own mid-life reinvention and a question I adore because in a moment's time it provides you with a quick reconnect to your unique inner voice.
If it were 10 years ago and nothing were standing in your way, no fear or excuses to contend with…what would you do?
Don't overthink it. The brilliance of this question is that it refocuses purpose. Whatever first came to mind when you answered this for yourself is at its core a powerful insight into defining and redefining the FUTURE decade. Bring your answer into the light of today and what small piece of it is actionable NOW? Where is this resonating and aligning with a 2019 version of yourself?
Then, based on your success list and your answer to the above question, what is your 2020 vision for your business and for the business of YOU?
Designing a new decade begins as a collection of 3,650 opportunities. 3,650 blank slates of new days ahead in which to pivot and propel yourself forward. Every single one of those days is a window into your legacy. An invitation to be, create, explore, and chip away at this thing we call life. One 24-hour segment at a time.
While you have a decade ahead to work on design improvements, you have the ability to begin manifesting this project of YOU Version 2020 right NOW. Based on exploring the exercises in this post, begin executing your vision. Ask questions. Be present. Let go of 2019 and the past 10 years so that you can embrace the next 10. Position acceptance and self-trust at the forefront of how you lead you. One choice at a time.
Don't get bogged down in the concept of the next 10 years. Instead position clarity and intention into each new day, starting today. Then chase every one of those intentions with an in-the-moment commitment and solution toward living a legendary life!