Ari Derfel is a visionary, and a contemporary entrepreneur. On paper, he is the co-founder along with Eric Fenster, of Back to Earth Catering, Gather Restaurant, and Back to Earth Outdoor Adventures. In theory – if you are a traditionalist when it comes to business, Ari’s way of thinking and doing might seem unorthodox, but he’s clearly on to something big. Ari and Eric created a business plan for themselves, but the core of the plan was based on a set of shared values rather than the bottom line – not that the bottom line wasn’t important – it just wasn’t the main event. With a shared background in event production and sustainability, as well as a passion for organic food, Eric and Ari joined forces to “green” the event industry. Each of their companies are a direct expression of their values, and operate with the same mission: “We provide experiences that celebrate life, and enhance our awareness of self, community, and the earth.”
When Back to Earth hit the scene, words like “green”, “organic”, and “sustainable” were just beginning to catch and were almost non-existent in the food and event industry. From inception, Eric and Ari built a company with these principles at its foundation. Their goal was to prove that sustainability and health did not need to be an afterthought — it could bring food and events to the next level of quality, elegance, and innovation. Word hit the street quickly, and before long Back to Earth established itself as the premier organic caterers in the San Francisco Bay Area. They received national press and awards and a flood of requests and enthusiasm.
Their most recent vision – Gather, is an all organic restaurant at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, California. The David Brower Center is a high-profile development project in downtown Berkeley that will house environmental and social justice non-profits and triple bottom line for profits. To see more about what Ari and Eric have created, visit www.backtoearth.com or www.gatherrestaurant.com.
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