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Inside Kendall

Koetke Leads NRA Panel on Food Sustainability

Kendall College’s School of Culinary Arts was in the spotlight this year at the National Restaurant Association’s NRA Show 2010, May 22 – 25. Dean Christopher Koetke, who has become a nationally recognized authority on sustainability in the foodservice industry, led an educational session entitled, “Are Sourcing Local AND Sustainable Food Mutually Exclusive?”  Joining him were Rick Bayless, chef-restaurateur, author and television personality; Steve Schimoler, chef-restaurateur, innovator and well-known locavore; and Dan Rosenthal, founder of the Green Chicago Restaurant Co-op.

Acknowledging that food sustainability is a highly nuanced and complex topic, Dean Koetke discussed how there are definite benefits to local, organic, and biodynamic food but, in some instances, those terms are not synonymous with sustainable.

Rick Bayless and Dan Rosenthal discussed the topic from the operators’ viewpoint with both favoring local and organic products. Chef Bayless stated, “In my operations, I’m committed to working with a limited number of local farmers with whom I build a close and collaborative relationship to ensure that products produced are as organic and sustainable as possible.”

Steve Schimoler, founder of, talked about the distribution piece, addressing a couple of the main concerns with sourcing local product – food safety liability and efficient transportation. “LocalCrop,” he says, “is an online farmer’s market, where local ingredients are collected and delivered to restaurants through a unique partnership between chefs, farmers, artisan producers, and Sysco Foodservices.”

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