Chipotle’s Cultivate Festival Serves Public and Employees Alike

125px-Chipotle_Mexican_Grill_logo.svgChipotle has long been on the list of companies we’ve noted that pay attention to their customers about sustainability issues.  The company has also historically gone out of its way to educate consumers about sustainability in food, animal welfare, GMO issues and many other things.  See its famous scarecrow video for some inspiration.

The folks at Chipotle also know how to throw a good party, which was evident last week at the company’s free-to-the-public Cultivate Festival which rolled into Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The event featured a bevy of top musical acts as well famous chefs performing cooking demonstrations. The most visible aspects of the festival were interactive exhibits scattered throughout the grounds inviting attendees to learn about issues from factory farming to making the perfect guacamole. Impressively, every exhibit had a line of at least 100 people waiting to check them out throughout the day. Granted, they were bribed with the promise of free tacos if they visited them all, but still….

It turns out that it wasn’t just the public who were getting a treat.  Every attraction and every food station at the festival was staffed by Chipotle employees — some from local stores, others hand-picked to be flown in for the event.  The idea was not only to provide employees with a fun day out and to ensure an educated public face for the company in terms of basic PR, but also to explain the company’s stance on the various issues presented by the event.

I had a chance to sneak backstage to talk to Chipotle’s communications director, Chris Arnold, to learn more about how the event was staffed and what folks were learning.  Video after the jump:

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.