Starting in June, consumers will be able to choose a place to eat based on a restaurant’s sustainability rating, indicated by a number of “links.” These links are the mark of a new restaurant survey, rating system, and list called The Good Food 100 Restaurants™. The project aims to increase transparency surrounding sustainable business practices that benefit the environment, plants and animals, producers, purveyors, restaurants, and eaters.
The Good Food 100 Restaurants rating system measures chefs’ purchasing practices and determines the extent to which they are supporting local “good food” economies. The ratings are determined based on self-reported annual food purchasing data from a survey completed by participating chefs and restaurants. Any restaurant or food service operation in the United States, ranging from fast casual to fine dining, is eligible to take the survey.
A number of links—from two to five—will be awarded to each restaurant based on their performance as compared to similar survey participants. The inaugural list and ratings will be available to the public, along with an economic analysis report by the Business Research Division of Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder, in June 2017 on The Good Food 100 Restaurants website.
Food Tank caught up with Sara Brito, the co-founder and president of The Good Food 100 Restaurants, to find out how this new system will affect the food world.
Food Tank (FT): Can you explain how the Good Food 100 Restaurants rating system works?
Sara Brito (SB): The Good Food 100 Restaurants is an annual list of restaurants spanning from fast casual and fine dining to food service that seeks to redefine how chefs, restaurants, and food service businesses are viewed and valued. The ratings focus on the quantitative measurement of chefs’ purchasing practices, which are based on the percentage of total food purchases spent to support local, state, regional, and national Good Food producers and purveyors compared to similar-type participating restaurants in the same region.
FT: Why did you see a need for the rating system now?
SB: Chefs are among the most trusted influencers in society today. According to the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, chefs are more trusted than doctors or lawyers. Until now, most of this recognition and influence has been based on the subjective standards and opaque criteria designed to reward chefs and restaurants (including food service) for how their food tastes.
I believe that good food is good for every link in the food chain. Now, more than ever, with sustainability and transparency being at the center of the industry and mainstream cultural conversation, eaters are demanding to know where their food comes from.
FT: How will this tool affect diners?
SB: The Good Food 100 will educate and inform eaters about the restaurants that are transparent with their purchasing and sustainable business practices.
FT: What will chefs gain from participating?
SB: By participating in the Good Food 100 Restaurants survey, chefs will be recognized and celebrated for being transparent with their purchasing practices. In addition, they will be contributing to a new, first-of-its-kind national economic assessment that aims to measure how restaurants are helping to build a better food system by supporting local, state, regional, and national ‘good food’ economies. Their participation will also help establish benchmarks for different types of restaurant and food service businesses across the country in order to help them understand and evolve their purchasing practices to help build a better food system.
How many chefs and restaurants will be included in the inaugural rating? Any notable names?
SB: The list of chefs and restaurants that have committed to taking the survey includes: 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), Bill Telepan (Oceana), and many more.
FT: Do you see this rating system changing the way the restaurant industry works? How?
SB: The Good Food 100 Restaurants ratings aim to redefine how chefs, restaurants, and food service businesses are viewed and valued. The rating system will also help establish benchmarks for different types of restaurant and food service businesses across the country in order to help them understand and evolve their purchasing practices to help build a better food system.
FT: What do you hope will happen with Good Food 100 Restaurants in the next 5 or 10 years?
SB: Like the Inc. 100 and Fortune 100, the Good Food 100 Restaurants is not limited to 100 restaurants. In the future, the full list could be 100 to infinity.