This week Denver-based Good Food 100 announced a new partnership with the nationally-esteemed James Beard Foundation. The collaboration will broaden the reach of Good Food 100, connecting JBF’s extensive network of chefs across the country to the steadily growing organization.

Started only two years ago on February 1, 2017, Good Food 100 is already an influential organization in the food and culinary industry. Each year, Good Food 100 publishes a list of chefs and restaurants that are helping to build a better food system by using their purchasing power to support local and sustainable food options.

Celebrating Chefs and Educating Eaters

Jen Jasinski – Kent Miller courtesy of James Beard Foundation

Co-founder and president Sara Brito is a long time expert in the industry. She foresaw that the “age of transparency [was] coming for chefs.” Wanting to give chefs a forum to show transparency, she helped create Good Food 100. “I wanted to create a badge of honor for chefs that wanted to be recognized for more than just how they’re food tastes but how good it is for every link in the food chain,” Brito explained.

Restaurants interested in being acknowledged for their responsible and thoughtful purchasing can apply by submitting various information including sourcing reports and labor information. Each restaurant then receives a rating based on their purchasing habits, and Good Food 100 creates an economic report that encapsulates the information from all participating restaurants.

Good Food 100 recognizes that in order to make a change in the food industry for the better, all members of the community need opportunities to participate. Any food business – fine and casual dining, fast casual, food service (such as college dining programs), specialty grocers/lunch counters and catering services – is eligible to apply.

With the newly announced James Beard Foundation partnership, fast and casual food services have the opportunity to be affiliated with the James Beard Foundation. Brito is excited for what this partnership means for the national food industry.

“The James Beard Foundation [is] an organization that historically has had its roots in fine dining, but recognizes that the ability to truly make an impact on our food system and changing our food system for good is going to require everyone’s participation. Especially those businesses that are operating at scale because when businesses that are operating at scale make even small incremental changes, they can have a dramatic, tremendous positive effect on the food system.”

JBF Widens the Reach of Good Food 100

JBF’s 2018 Awards Gala at The Lyric Opera House -Kent Miller Courtesy of the James Beard Foundation

JBF’s Vice President of Impact, Katherine Miller, expressed the foundation’s excitement to collaborate with Good Food 100. Through this partnership, James Beard Foundation will reach out to their expansive network – thousands of chefs across the country – and encourage them to join the Good Food 100 movement. “We need more chefs to participate in it,” she explained, “so we have a better sense nationally of the true impact of purchasing locally, purchasing sustainably [and] buying better seafood options.” Miller recognizes what an organization such as Good Food 100 means for the food industry: more sustainable options, better food and a healthier planet.

While JBF focuses on educating chefs on various sustainable practices, Good Food 100 is dedicated to celebrating chefs and educating eaters. After so many chefs have put in the hard work through participating in James Beard programs – such as the Boot Camp for Policy and Change, Smart Catch and Waste Not – the foundation is excited for these chefs to be recognized for their commitment to good food practices.

Over the past few years, the James Beard Foundation coined a new tagline: good food for good. So to Miller, the collaboration with Good Food 100 just made sense. Both organizations recognize the importance of “diverse, sustainable, planet-forward food,” as Miller described it. “We’re really hoping that [by] using the JBF name. . . and our network of sustainably-minded chefs and restaurants, that we can help grow this into something that is bigger and has a greater impact along the way,” she added.

Denver’s Role in the Good Food Movement

Kwame Onwuachi, Josh Kulp, Jen Jasinski and Mourad Lahlou – Ken Goodman courtesy of The James Beard Foundation

Good Food 100 is an organization based in Denver, and while the reach spans all eight regions of the United States, Brito very intentionally headquartered the organization in the Mile High City. “I’ve never experienced a culinary community like the one that exists in Boulder and Denver amongst the chefs and restaurants. It’s the most collaborative and supportive community that I’ve ever witnessed or been a part of,” she commented.

With events like Harvest Week and Slow Food Nations, Brito is right about the collaborative chef community. And Good Food 100 is benefiting from the local food community. “We’ve had tremendous enthusiasm and support from the Denver community,” Brito reported, “over 40 Denver restaurants were featured on the 2018 list.”

The James Beard Foundation feels similarly about the Mile High City, with a number of James Beard award winners and nominees cooking in Denver. “It’s an exciting place, it’s a really active and activist chef community when it comes to defining the values,” Miller commented. And with a new frontier attitude lingering the food scene, Brito pointed out that  “chefs and restaurants have permission to do things differently than the way they’ve been done historically in the industry, and also perhaps on the coasts.” While Denver chefs are becoming leaders in innovative cooking across the country, they are also helping to pioneer the sustainable food movement across the country and Good Food 100 is celebrating them for it.

To apply to the Good Food 100 Restaurant list for 2019, click here. A full list of Good Food 100 Restaurants from 2018 is here. To read the 2018 Economic Report from Good Food 100, click here.

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