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 keeps you working in the foodservice industry?
Greg Christian: I try to teach people how to serve food and beverage in budget and serve the environment by being zero impact or restorative. It also gives me great pleasure to try to serve the community and help people and the planet on a daily basis.
FE&S: Who was the person that influenced your career most?
Greg Christian: John Terczak, the original chef at Gordon, and Michael Short of the former Star Top Café, a great chef who is sadly no longer with us. Also, Hollis Haxby, caterer extraordinaire.
FE&S: Who in the foodservice industry do you admire most?
Greg Christian: Martin Cruz. He has worked at my side for more than 20 years. Anyone who can work with me that long and still be sane is a saint.
FE&S: What aspect of your career gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
Greg Christian: I have done two events for the U.S. Green Building Council with 5,000 guests each time. Also, the head of their national event team, Kimberly Lewis, told me more than once about my former catering company that there was no greener caterer in North America.
FE&S: If you were not working in foodservice, what would you be doing?
Greg Christian: Robbing armored cars maybe — I’m kidding — well, kind of: my Vietnam marine buddy Phil talked me out of the idea when I was 19.
FE&S: Any interesting hobbies?
Greg Christian: Improv comedy. It’s just like cooking to me; you get “ingredients” or “ideas” and have to move quickly to turn them into something “edible” or, in improv, funny.
FE&S: What do you look for in a business partner?
Greg Christian: Passion and certain strengths that I do not have.
FE&S: What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Greg Christian: Make sure you know how to finish whatever you start. Many people are not finishers — they love to begin projects but don’t always complete them.