Thursday, November 10, 2011

New York Produce Show and Conference Part 2

Day two of the New York Produce Show and Conference was a day full packed with information and industry leaders and chefs.

If you missed Part 1, stop and read it first..

Starting off the day was Jim Prevor, aka the Perishable Pundit who welcoming the attendees and remarked about how big of a success the previous day was, as mentioned in my last post there were over 3500 guests on the Produce Show floor. Jim was then followed by Chandra Ram from Plate Magazine to speak about what is hot in the New York restaurant and food service world.

Here are the trends associated with produce she discussed:
  • Farm Relationships
  • Meatless Mondays 
  • School Nutrition Initiatives
  • Foraging
  • Restaurant Gardens
  • Pickling & Preserving
  • Exciting Salads-More than just leaves
  • Creative Desserts-Stepping back in time where produce was used as the sweetener of a dessert
In fact Chandra explained that the the purchase of Ball canning jars has gone up 300% because of the new trend and that a well know restaurant group has revised its children's menu to move away from chicken finger, fries and burgers.  She also commended restaurants such as Dirty Candy, Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Arrows Restaurant for paving the way.

We were then treated to two chef demos, the first by Executive Chef Ben Pollinger from Oceana and then Ralph Perrazzo.  Chef Pollinger demonstrated his Winter Vegetable Rolls with Curried Spinach Sauce, served in a Braised Onion while emphasising the connection between earth and plate.  Chef Perrazo demonstrated his Strawberry Confetti Dessert that included a hibiscus reduction, Chef Pollinger was assisted by Chef Anthony D'Adamo of Ritz Carlton NYC.  Both dishes were absolutely terrific.

Once the Chefs were done with their demonstrations Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RD from the Culinary Institute of America discussed the My Plate Challenge and the ten ways the food service industry can help make the transition to a half a plate of fruits and vegetables per meal.

  1. Think strategically about flavors you put on the plate
  2. Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables
  3. Improve the fat quality, promoting healthier fats
  4. Increase options for healthy protein options
  5. Emphasise healthy carbohydrates
  6. Opportunities to reduce sodium
  7. Give a wider range of portion sizes and calorie options
  8. Leverage small measures of indulgence
  9. Share nutritional information with the consumer
  10. Engage your colleges and industry partners

We then had a working lunch ideation session, the assignment was to address one of five challenging questions in small groups ensuring that the end result is a plate composed of at least 50% fresh produce. The questions all focused on how the following segments of the food service industry could achieve that outcome.

*Well-Established Steakhouse Chain, *Quick-Service Hamburger Based Chain, *Elementary School Food Service, *Baseball Stadium Concessions and a *Corporate Cafeteria.

Then came the Keynote Speaker, no other than Farmer Lee Jones of The Chef's Garden, Inc.  Farmer Jones started by explain his family history and specifically their rocky history of farming in Ohio.  He quickly moved to how his family decided to forget about selling their produce at farmers markets and to solely work (and learn) with chefs to produce produce that is culinary focused.  This switch lead to The Chef's Garden and being on the cutting edge, growing some of the finest tasting and most nutritious vegetables in the world.  Creative in his approach, while at the same time putting the chef first.  As quoted by Farmer Jones "Food that looks good, tastes good, and is good for you."  He also suggested that the rest of the industry embrace technology as they have, in fact their produce is not picked until a chef orders it and that each of his seeds has a bar code that results in true transparency to trace back a product.  The produce is also given a DNA test to check for Ecoli and then passed through a metal detector.  It was very apparent the Farmer Jones loves what he does, loves the earth, and believes in working with Mother Nature not trying to trick her.

Until I blog again, Live Life, Eat Well, and Be Safe...

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