When Chipotle first arrived in Nashville, I didn’t immediately understand all the hype. The company has a huge and loyal fan base and many in Nashville were thrilled about their arrival. When the crowds died down a bit, I finally tried it out. And then I understood. Chipotle puts a tremendous amount of effort into their food sourcing and it really comes through in the quality and taste of their food. Plus, sofritas, y'all! And a good, cheap kid's meal.
Aside from the food tasting great, Chipotle has won support because of their commitment to sustainable sourcing, accommodating various diets, and partnerships with charitable organizations. In Nashville, Chipotle works with The Nashville Food Project, whose mission is “Bringing people together to grow, cook and share nourishing food, with the goals of cultivating community and alleviating hunger in our city.” The organization does so through their organic gardens, through their kitchen (where they also use donated and “recovered” food), and through their food trucks, which they use to distribute meals and produce to those in need.
The Chipotle partnership dovetails nicely with Chipotle’s Food With Integrity program, in which Chipotle seeks to create better food from using ingredients that are fresh as well as sustainably grown and Responsibly Raised™ (with respect for the animals, the land, and the farmers who produce the food). Throughout the year, Chipotle holds and sponsors fundraisers for The Nashville Food Project. In April, the restaurants raised money for TNFP and just a couple of weeks ago, sponsored Nourish, a benefit dinner held at Green Door Gourmet.
I didn’t get a chance to attend Nourish (tickets for the event sold out well in advance), but my friend, Tabitha of A la Mode Media was able to attend and get some cool “backstage” photos of the event. What’s cool is seeing some of the city’s (and the country’s) most celebrated chefs working together (and having a good time) to prepare this dinner. I think her photos clearly capture the spirit of the event (and The Nashville Food Project, in general). At the end of the night, the event raised $140,000 for TNFP. A huge success!
For details on future collaborations between Chipotle and The Nashville Food Project, keep an eye out here or on Bites. And be sure to read the wrap-up of the Nourish event (including pictures of the food that was served) by my Bites colleague, Chris Chamberlain.