Foodservice operators and chefs who plan to attend the Culinary Institute of America’s Flavor, Quality and American Menus event in September need to be ready to hear about flavor, produce and sustainability.
The event, Sept. 8-11 at the institute’s Greystone campus in St. Helena, Calif., is set to tackle measurable sustainability efforts and issues including street food concepts, a five-year flavor trends outlook, nutrition and inspiration on menus, as well as chef demonstrations and a trip to the University of California-Davis.
Last year’s conference had more than 120 attendees, mostly chefs and foodservice operators from schools, institutions and restaurants across the country, to preview and work with new products from event sponsors, which include produce companies.
“We want to get close to the end user,” said Ernst Van Eeghen, director of marketing and product development for Salinas, Calif.-based Church Bros., one of the sponsors. “It’s all about flavor, so we want to get out there with exciting new flavors and get feedback from the end user.”
The company plans to preview new arugula varieties and get feedback for decisions about new products to launch at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit convention in October.
Other fresh produce sponsors include C.H. Robinson Worldwide, the National Watermelon Promotion Board, Naturipe Farms and Paramount Citrus.
Three nut associations — the Almond Board of California, the National Peanut Board and the Western Pistachio Association — are also sponsoring the event, along with a few groups that represent both fresh and processed produce — Dole’s foodservice division and Ocean Spray—as well as the grower-oriented organizations Seminis Vegetable Seeds and Dow AgroSciences.
The remainder of the sponsors represent the oil, sauce, protein and processed food industries.
This will be Paramount Citrus’ first sponsorship of a culinary institute event. It will be on the cusp of valencia orange season at the show, and approaching navel and mandarin season.
“We want to keep citrus top of mind with some of these foodservice entities,” said Ashley Martorana, director of marketing. “We just want to make sure they’re thinking about it in their menu development.”
Paramount president David Krauss plans to attend, Martorana said.
Chef Joe Poon, a consultant for the Culinary Institute of America, is planning to appear on behalf of the National Watermelon Promotion Board, with a presentation.
“The NWPB has an opportunity to reach a large audience of culinary chefs that make menu decisions for millions of customers,” said Mark Arney, executive director of the board. “The NWPB works with the chefs at this meeting to come up with menu items made with watermelon as either the prime ingredient, or part of the overall meal.”
The event closes with the Market Basket Experience, which pairs representatives from sponsor companies with foodservice operators, chefs and other attendees to put their conference experience into practice, creating a meal for the group with the sponsors’ products.