Putting Produce in the Plant-Based Conversation proved a thought-provoking theme at the Ideation Fresh Foodservice Forum.
Sara Deseran, vice president of brand communications, and Leith Steel, head of insights for Carbonate, started with the results of their 16th Hospitality Trends Report.
Cross-cultural cooking focused on experiences rather than ethnicities, Korean cuisine led by a love of gochujang (red chili paste), and caprese martinis with the liquid inside a tomato as a star ingredient were a few of the eye-openers.
Next, Jill Overdorf, chief executive of the Produce Ambassador, led a panel discussing Produce Elevation at Operations.
Andy Hamilton, chief executive of Markon, says the pandemic-led acceleration of trends created challenges in figuring out what is a trend, what is a fad, and what to stock. The company manages 20,000 SKUs.
Nicole Bonica, RDN, and menu coordinator for the NYC Department of Education, said the post-pandemic resumption of salad bars in schools led her team to a 2.0 concept, that of matching the bar to the day’s menu. For example, offerings like Spinach, Tomato & Red Pepper Salad on Quesadilla Day, Carrot Raisin Salad with Baked Chicken, and a White Bean Salad with Pizza.
Post-pandemic, Chris Lenza, executive chef, Wellness & Plant Forward Initiatives for Bon Appétit Management Company hit the road for 18 months of company chef training. One of his themes showed five ways to use the unsung hero veggie of kohlrabi from pureed to julienned.
Donald Russo, senior category manager for Baldor Specialty Foods noted a change from chefs in the city’s Michelin star restaurants to base purchasing specs on flavor rather than commodity-style size and shape requirements.
Putting words into action, Jessica Pamonicutt, executive chef and owner of Ketapanen Kitchen, followed with a cooking demonstration. She used nearly a dozen fruits and vegetables like apples, cranberries, carrots, sweet potato, beets, collard greens, parsnips, and fresh sage, along with maple syrup and wild rice, plus her Native American talents, to create her Earthly Hash.
John Ables, vice president of operations Ketapanen Kitchen moderated the session.
The IdEATion Fresh Luncheon proved a working lunch that lived up to its name by pairing a produce-rich buffet with real-world restaurant challenges students and attendees each brain-stormed and solved.
Overdorf took the post-prandial lead on a Panel Discussion by Industry Marketers, with Megan McKenna, senior director of marketing and food service for the National Watermelon Board, and Tom Smith, director of sales for California Giant Berry Farms.
The forum wrapped up with Johnson & Wales University culinary students, from Providence, RI, and Charlotte, NC, campuses talking about their Strategies for Elevating Produce, led by Professor Doug Stuchel.
Alexis Dixon, a senior studying Food & Beverage Industry Management from the Charlotte campus summed up the plant-based conversation theme best when she said, “Many people think there is only one way to cook vegetables. I think it’s all about changing that mindset and educating about new ways. It’s all about re-wiring our brains.”
The 14th annual New York Produce Show and Conference (NYPS) opened Dec. 5. The event had a record audience of more than 5,000 executives attending the one-day trade show and three co-located events. There were 350-plus exhibiting companies and a record of 41 sponsors. The New York Produce Show is organized by Produce Business and the Eastern Produce Council.
SAVE THE DATE!
Mark your calendar for next year’s New York Produce Show and Conference: Dec. 10-12, 2024.
And exhibitors, book your booth now, as there’s a limited time to maintain the current booth rate. Visit www.nyproduceshow.com/exhibit2024 or talk to your sales representative before Jan. 12 to lock in the 2023 rate!