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Sara Brito is rarely hungry. As the co-founder and president of the Good Food Media Network, she spends her days visiting, speaking, and, of course, eating with chefs to encourage their participation in a new national rating system called the Good Food 100 Restaurants. (Disclosure: 5280 contributing editor Amanda M. Faison is the Good Food Media Network’s editorial director.) Here’s the scoop: Chefs and food-service providers take a survey detailing their purchasing practices to show how much of their spending goes to sustainable purveyors. Instead of stars, they are ranked with two to six links (for the links in the food chain); six-link restaurants are those making the most beneficial impacts on their communities through their purchases. The rankings will be updated annually, starting with the inaugural list that comes out on June 15.
What does it mean for diners? Your next restaurant pick can be based not on Yelp reviews or best-of lists but by which chefs do the most good for our planet, our farms, and you. Colorado chefs were some of the first participants, so we asked Boulder-based Brito to take us on a tour of local spots to see what she’d order…if only she had an appetite.
“I would start any good-food crawl with chef-owner Alex Seidel at Union Station’s Mercantile Dining & Provision. Not only was he the first local chef to sign on with the Good Food 100, but he’s also on our culinary board and the only participant who’s a chef, a farmer, and a restaurateur. A dish that stands out on his lunchtime menu is the Colorado-grown quinoa salad, which most people don’t think of as a local crop.”
“Another one of our biggest supporters, also at Union Station, is Next Door, co-owned by Kimbal Musk. There, I order a tangy 50/50 burger made with cremini mushrooms and local beef from their longtime partner, Koberstein Ranch.”
“Next, I’d run over to Larimer Square to Jen Jasinski’s Rioja. Her artichoke tortelloni represents the best of what the Good Food 100 is about because it includes Haystack Mountain’s Boulder chèvre and queso de mano. I love to see local chefs using the food products Colorado is known for.”
“Let’s head down Larimer Street to Ballpark’s Snooze. Here, I gravitate toward the entire Flavors From The Hen section of the menu because Snooze uses only cage-free eggs. They cook just shy of 90,000 eggs every week across their 18 locations, so I really respect that commitment.”
“Venturing to Uptown, I’d pop into Coperta, where Paul C. Reilly sources heritage meat from local farms. Coperta’s ‘griglia mista’ (mixed grill), for example, includes lamb shoulder from Ewe Bet Ranch in Loveland, spare ribs and sausage from pork from Cone Ranch in Julesburg, and arugula from Oxford Gardens in Niwot.”
“I’m a big fan of Daniel Asher for using Alaskan wild salmon from Bristol Bay at River and Woods. That one menu item speaks to the impact of a chef’s buying power—not just affecting local companies, but also supporting the bay, which is a national treasure.”
“I live very close to Basta, so I’m a regular. And you can’t mention Basta or Kelly Whitaker without talking about pizza. He’s using pepperoni from Niman Ranch—which also happens to be a Good Food 100 partner—so that’s an easy pick.”
“Last but not least, there’s Frasca Food and Wine. Its insalata includes butter lettuces, radicchio, radishes, and a vinaigrette made with Seidel’s Fruition Farms skyr (a yogurtlike cheese). It’s wonderful that one of the state’s best-known fine-dining restaurants uses this delicious, humble product from a fellow Colorado chef.”
Go to goodfood100restaurants.org on June 15 to find the 2017 rankings for all Colorado participants, including: 626 on Rood; Appaloosa Grill; Beast & Bottle; Block & Larder; Boulder Valley School District; Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen; Fooducopia; Fresh Thymes Eatery; Fruition; Julia’s Kitchen; Old Major; the Regional; Salt; Sazza; Tables; University of Colorado Boulder Dining Services; the Way Back; and Wild Standard.