Flavor SummitNapa Valley, CA
2016 Flavor Summit Program Summary
The Greystone Flavor Summit brings together each spring a select group of top food and beverage executives, corporate and executive chefs, and other experts in American foodservice and hospitality to explore, discuss, and taste their way through a stimulating, critical set of flavor and related kitchen, dining, and hospitality management issues.
Our presenters thoroughly and candidly discussed the latest in food and beverage trends and business strategies to stand out in a crowded world. We covered savory and sweet menu ideas thanks to compelling demonstrations, sustainability when it comes to the bar, best practices in social media and mobile technology, kitchen and menu design, data-driven generational trends that impact business models, and much more. From presentations and discussions to the many incredible meals and tastings, we got to think about ways to expand the flavors of our menus and the reach of our operations.
While demoing a plant-forward dish using ingredients from a mystery basket, keynote speaker Hugh Acheson talked about what it means to be a chef today and how the profession has evolved. He cited diners’ desire that chefs apply what they learned in fine dining to more community-driven establishments, with food that feels current and interesting—which means really ramping up flavor. They demand authenticity of the chefs whose restaurants they want to patronize. Acheson stressed that chefs must start being better teachers to help reduce turnaround in their operations, and endow their employees with purpose.
To help attendees develop their food photography and social media skills and understand how dishes can be plated, or even conceptualized, to have a stronger visual impact, Roxanne Webber of ChefsFeed detailed best practices in a lively tutorial. Attendees broke into teams and used dishes from lunch, along with raw ingredients, tableware, and props, to style photos they posted on Twitter and Instagram. Webber and the CIA’s Jackie Chi chose winners in categories ranging from best use of lighting to most original styling.
Other aspects of technology featured in the program included how operations can use energy- and water-efficient equipment to enact significant savings, with Amin Delagah of PG&E Food Service Technology, and how mobile technology, including drones and virtual reality, is transforming the hospitality industry and allowing operators to enhance their customers’ experience, with Grant Martin of Skift.
Eve Turow Paul shared her research and own perspective on what drives millennials—including, of course, social media and technology—to spend an unprecedented percentage of their income on food and be the most adventuresome dining generation yet. Millennials value experience more than objects, which is good news for the hospitality industry. Mark Woodworth of PKF Hospitality Research shared confirming data, stating that the industry is at peak in terms of occupancy, even if Airbnb is giving hotels stiff competition.
Randy Lopez of Synergy Restaurant Consultants and Leora Halpern Lanz of LHL Communications respectively shared trends in menu wording, including how to best details one’s purveyors so that it feels current and not overwrought and, and ways for operators to cut through the clutter and capture customers for their food and beverage operations.
Salvatore Martone of Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas offered for tasting and demonstration an elaborate cherry dessert and explained the process behind his extensively developed creative process. King Phojanakong of Kuma Inn and Tito King’s Kitchen in New York demonstrated Filipino dishes that make for perfect, on-trend bar items.
Covering topics that included using pork in dishes that please diners from millennials to boomers, blending mushrooms into burgers for diners’ pleasure and health, finding culinary inspiration in the work of beef ranchers, seeking new inspirations in design, and better understanding the science behind grass-fed meat, the conference’s top-level partners and the world-class chefs, producers, and experts they gathered shared illuminating presentations that inspired all in attendance with new ideas for their menus and their approach to hospitality.
On the beverage front, Jennifer Colliau, who created the bar programs of the Perennial and the Interval in San Francisco, shared how she conceptualizes craft cocktails that allow her bartenders to rapidly serve large crowds without losing the opportunity to connect one and one and share stories with their patrons, and how she reduces wastage at her bars, from ice to napkins. Jon Bonné, senior contributing editor at Punch, talked about developing wine lists that offer lesser known French wines from smaller producers.
We hope that our attendees enjoyed a memorable experience and took back concrete ideas to their operations, and look forward to welcoming another group of influential food, beverage, and hospitality executives to next year’s Greystone Flavor Summit, March 8-10, 2017.