Greg Christian is the founder and CEO of Beyond Green: Sustainable Food Partners, formerly known as Greg Christian Consulting. A Culinary Institute of America graduate and chef who has cooked all over the world, Greg’s current work focuses on the intersection of foodservice and sustainability. His scope of work includes consulting K-12 schools and other institutions on adopting healthy food, environmentally-conscious and sustainable strategies for their foodservice operations. In addition, Greg’s efforts as founder and developer of the Organic School Project (OSP), a non-profit helping public schools build learning and feeding gardens, have been recognized on a national level. He is the author of Food and Forgiveness: How a Chicago Chef Came Around. In 2011, FE&S highlighted Greg as a Future Foodservice Leader.
FE&S: What type of charitable activities are you involved in?
Greg Christian: I started a not-for-profit 501c3 Organic School project — it was the first to put vegetable gardens into Chicago public schools and feed kids real food in the Chicago Public School System. It’s a joke what we feed kids in school and then expect them to learn. Encouraging healthier food in schools is a huge part of what I do.
FE&S: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in the foodservice industry?
Greg Christian: Just when you think you are prepared (in chef’s speak that’s mise en place), you are toast. This is especially — actually, always — the case in catering. So I try to be even more prepared for things.
FE&S: Finish this sentence: Nobody knows I...
Greg Christian: ...am thinking of opening up a restaurant. Don’t ask why.
FE&S: When traveling for business, what is one of your favorite pastimes?
Greg Christian: Eating out, but not drinking; I’ve been sober almost 10 years.
FE&S: Other than your own, name the foodservice company that you admire most and why?
Greg Christian: Chipotle...they are doing the sustainable, clean food thing with ease. And they produce an enormous volume of food every day.
FE&S: What was your first job in foodservice?
Greg Christian: Making omelets for Sunday brunch at one of the busiest restaurant in Chicago (it has since closed).
FE&S: Knowing what you now know, would you still pursue a career in foodservice?
Greg Christian: Of course.
FE&S: If I were just starting out in the foodservice industry, what advice would you give me?
Greg Christian: If you wanted to be a chef, cook or caterer, I would say find the best chef you can and work for him or her for five years (forget school). Even if you don’t become a chef, it’s important to know the workings of food and how to cook to some degree.
Click here to read part one of the interview with Greg Christian.