Flavor, Quality and American Menus 2014Napa Valley, CA
Flavor, Quality & American Menus is an annual invitational leadership forum presented in partnership by The Culinary Institute of America and the University of California, Davis. Now in its 12th year, this invitation-only retreat provides opportunities for networking, exchanging information and ideas, and advancing both American agriculture and the food and beverage industries that depend on it. The event aims to stimulate innovative thinking around the future of agriculture as well as flavor-, quality- and diversity-driven menu R&D, connecting leaders within the volume foodservice and American agriculture industries to foster better understanding of current challenges and opportunities faced by each sector.
Attendees at the 2014 retreat included: more than 35 volume foodservice operators from chain restaurants, contract foodservice companies, supermarkets, and colleges and universities; 22 presenters including guest chefs from Austin, TX, Kailua, HI, Oakland, CA, New York, NY, and Seattle, WA, and sponsor representatives from the 23 companies and organizations who supported the event.
The 2014 program schedule included: culinary demonstrations centered around adventurous flavors and new menu trends; presentations and panel discussions focused on sustainable agricultural practices, the role of wheat in our diet vs. seekers of gluten-free options, and water issues affecting food production; discussions on how American menus are often shaped by millennials, health and nutrition concerns, and global cuisines; a Friday field trip to the CIA Farm in St. Helena and through Marin and Sonoma Counties to visit Pozzi Ranch, Dutton Ranch (where Valley Ford Cheese Company joined), and Gourmet Mushrooms with tastings and presentations by the farmers as well as farm bureau and land trust experts; and the exciting and interactive Saturday Market Basket Exercise, where attendees were divided into six teams to develop menu concepts using sponsor products for the following categories:
- The Power of Umami for Plated Lunch in Casual Dining or Campus Dining Industry Segments
- Hawaii Cuisine for Plated Lunch in Casual Dining or Campus Dining Industry Segments
- Mexican Cuisine for Hand-Held Breakfast or Lunch in Fast Casual or Street Food Industry Segments
- Indian Cuisine for Small Plates in Campus Dining or Street Food Industry Segments
- The Power of Live Fire Cooking for Plated Lunch in Casual Dining or Corporate Dining Industry Segments
- European/Mediterranean Cuisines for Small Plates in Casual Dining or Corporate Dining Industry Segments.
This year’s Market Basket Exercise included the new “Black Box Culinary Throw Down,” where guest chefs demonstrated their own twists on menu item ideas generated by the teams, and competed for best concept by audience vote.