I work for a world where collaboration (not competition) fuels sustainability.

Here at Eat Y’all, we live that dream at the crossroads of food production and hospitality where we work to connect our growing network of chefs and producers to one another in a way that provides fertile ground for this idea of mutual sustainability.

I think we can all agree that sustainability of high-quality food production is critical to the health and wellbeing of humanity – and to the sustainability of the hospitality industry that increasingly requires better ingredients just to stay in business.

How Food Farmers, Artisan Food Makers & Chefs Can Help Each Other Grow

But what does that look like? How can farmers, artisan food makers, chefs and hospitality marketing programs work together to achieve mutual sustainability?

Here are five ideas to help you collaborate in an effort to fuel mutual sustainability:

  1. Take time to actually get to know one another. Real collaboration starts with a relationship – and not just the fuzzy, digital kind where you follow one another on Instagram. But the kind where you have a real human to human conversation and understand the needs, demands and challenges and one another’s businesses. Farmer, do you know how you can help your chefs? Chefs, do you know the greatest challenge facing your farmers right now? 
  2. Do events together. Chefs, are you planning to participate in a local or regional fundraiser or a food festival this year? Or even cooking at the James Beard House or doing a collaboration dinner with another chef? Invite your producers to come along and share in the recognition with their name on your menus, etc. They’ll likely donate product and even attend to assist and support you. Consider tagging one another in 100% of your posts on social media and even sending a press announcement to your local newspapers and TV station together to spin a unique press opportunity together.
  3. Chefs: Acknowledge your farmers by name on your menu. You cannot imagine the confidence boost and encouragement it is to a farmer to see their farm name on your menu. For decades farmers have been the hardest working group of under the radar, anonymous workers altogether disconnected from their end consumer. Farming is hard work, and the value of this token of acknowledgment of their hard work and humanity cannot be underemphasized. (Plus, in the spirit of mutual sustainability, when you put producer names on your menu, you build immediate trust with your customers, which leads to increased lifetime value of that customer and increased word of mouth marketing.
  4. Pitch the press together. Make a habit of pitching your local and regional media stories about what’s in season, new menu items, the story of how you came to work together or how you collaborate as a team, the importance of thoughtful sourcing, cooking demos together and more – together. The media loves food – and they love a farm to table success story. Oddly enough, the combination of a chef + producer pitch is rare and as such, is an opportunity for your collaboration to have a significant impact on your mutual sustainability.
  5. Producers: Showcase your chefs, their restaurant and their dishes frequently on your social media feed. Producers tend to amass a nice following on social media that generally maintains a higher than average level of engagement because it’s often comprised of friends, family, local farm community colleagues and farmers market customers. They’re cheering for their local farmers – and as such, they’ll have a higher than average propensity to cheer for the chefs that feature their favorite farmers. Producers are, in essence, one of the most powerful “influencers” money can’t buy. If you’ll deliver better ingredients, consistently, along with a steady crop of loyal customers, you’ll drive the spirit of mutual sustainability in your chef relationships.

>> What ideas have you seen be successful in your collaborative professional partnerships? Share this post on social media and comment to add to the conversation. >> Just getting started? Download our free e-book, How to Sell to Restaurants.

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