When Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle, opened the first Chipotle in Denver in 1993, he had a novel idea - to demonstrate that food served fast didn't have to be a typical fast food experience. Today, he and Chipotle are changing the way people think about and eat fast food. With a commitment to using ingredients from more sustainable sources - including naturally raised meat, organic and locally grown produce, as well as dairy products made with milk from cows that are not given synthetic hormones - Ells and Chipotle are leading a revolution to make great food affordable and accessible so everyone can eat better.
Ells, a classically trained chef, has received considerable praise for his vision and leadership at Chipotle. The New York Times proclaimed that Chipotle provides "a chance to witness - and taste - a shift in American fast food," and Newsweek called him "an environmental champion" for his commitment to supporting sustainable agriculture.
In 2006, Chipotle's prominence as a company was recognized when it became one of the most successful initial public offerings of the year. Its leadership and success in business has prompted accolades from a new universe of sources, including the Wall Street Journal which said, "Chipotle has arguably become the country's most successful fast-food chain"; SustainableBusiness.com which named Chipotle one of the "world's top 20 sustainable stocks" two years in a row (2007 and 2008); and the Motley Fool, which called it the "most socially responsible company" in 2008.
Ells holds a bachelor's degree in art history from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York.