The next time you’re in the market for a dining experience in New York City, Kristin Zecher ’13 can help you grab a fresher bite. Zecher, who majored in entrepreneurial studies at the University of Hartford’s Barney School of Business, is the creator of Aura Rating, an app featuring hundreds of New York restaurants that use fresh, organic ingredients sourced from local food producers. She developed the app idea after she and a team of fellow students won first place in the University’s Business Plan competition in 2012 and the Barney School’s International Business Plan Competition in 2013. Aura Rating recently garnered national attention in Vogue It Girl Style’s October 2016 issue.
Mixing business with food comes naturally to Zecher, who helped her father run three successful eateries on Long Island’s waterfront, but it was a semester studying in Italy, which included many visits to Florence’s “Mercato Centrale” an indoor central food market that serves food from local artisans, that led her to embrace farm-to-table. “I returned home and missed the fresh ingredients that made everything taste better, made me feel healthy, and I appreciated knowing where my food came from,” Zecher explains.
Zecher believes a gap exists for fresh marketplaces in New York, so her long term plan is to open a brick and mortar indoor “Aura Central Market,” named from her belief that “eating healthier translates into having better aura.”
“Restaurants buying from the City’s farmers markets help minimize the distance food travels before it reaches the table,” says Zecher, who is from Merrick, N.Y. “People once lived close to, and knew the people who grew their food. Local markets bring that connection back.”
While looking to expand her app into other cities in New York state, Zecher is partnering with local non-profits committed to fostering food sustainability. She believes her efforts are having an immediate effect on the way New Yorkers and its visitors are dining out. “Farm-to-table isn’t just a social movement to promote serving locally sourced ingredients. It’s also a reminder that our food really does grow on farms.”