MONTEREY, Calif. — The Produce Marketing Association will host its annual 2007 Foodservice Conference and Expo here this week, July 13-15, at the Portola Plaza Hotel. In an event tailored to the interests of restaurant owners and chefs, as well as retailers with strong prepared food programs, attendees will have the opportunity to check out the latest produce-oriented flavor trends and new products for the professional kitchen.
PMA officials told SN that produce department managers could benefit from tracking trends in the restaurant industry and on the Food Network, since their consumer research indicates that many shoppers discover new foods while dining out, and then actively look for them the next time they are at their local supermarket.
“There's definitely a connection between a restaurant experience and what consumers are buying at [retail],” said Lorna Christie, PMA's senior vice president of industry products and services. “Thirty-five percent of consumers who have something in a restaurant that they enjoy, actually look for that same product in a supermarket.”
Christie noted that Asian and Hispanic foods and flavors continued to build their popularity this year. Peruvian and Mediterranean cuisines are emerging as a new trend, she added. Also, the locally raised food bandwagon is definitely on the move, with more and more restaurants highlighting the freshness of locally grown fruits and vegetables on their menus.
“Restaurants are really using that local-foods trend as a marketing opportunity to connect the consumer with the fresh produce that's on the plate,” Christie noted. “It enhances their flavor expectation.”
Unfortunately, foodborne illness outbreaks involving contaminated produce were also a major, headline-grabbing issue for both retailers and restaurants during the past year. PMA has responded to renewed concerns about outbreaks by adding a hands-on session geared toward helping restaurant owners not only prevent outbreaks, but cope with the immediate aftermath should an outbreak ever occur at their business.
Other sessions include panel discussions on trends, and live demos by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and former White House executive chef Walter Scheib.
Attendees will include 14 student chefs from Johnson & Wales University and the Culinary Institute of America who were awarded PMA's Nucci Scholarship for Culinary Innovation. PMA announced the recipients last week, including from Johnson & Wales: Lucy Colavincenzo, David Araminta, Nicolas Jones, Douglas Kellner, Kimberly Maloomian, Desmond Smith and Julie Southern. And from CIA: Ben Burger, Jocelyn Laporte, Tim Nolt, Sean Reynolds, Tom Sullivan, Carlos Villanueva and Justin Weathers.
THURSDAY, JULY 12
7 a.m.-5:15 p.m.
Fresh Produce Academy Tours and Trends, Naturipe Farms
FRIDAY, JULY 13
6:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Fresh Produce Academy Tours and Trends, Ocean Mist Farms
7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Golf Tournament Benefiting Nucci Scholarship for Culinary Innovation
President's Invitational Reception
Opening Reception at Tanimura & Antle Headquarters
SATURDAY, JULY 14
Tomorrow's Trends by Today's Rising Chefs Panel Discussion: Russel Bry, Forklift Brands; Daniela Troia, Zia's Café and Café Troia; Greg Drescher. Culinary Institute of America; Andy Husbands, Tremont 647 and Sister Sorel; Suivir Saran, Devi and Veda
Food Safety, Produce & Your Bottom Line Kathy Means, PMA; Jorge Hernandez, U.S. Foodservice
11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Food Safety Crisis 101 Kathy Means, PMA
Think Outside the Restaurant, Alternative Channels Panel Discussion: David Mizer, Carnival Corp.; Ron Carkoski, Four Seasons Produce; Patti Oliver, UCLA Medical Center; Gary Petill, San Diego Unified School District
What Flavor is YOUR Business? Steven Kaun, Flavor Solutions
Dine Around for Operators & Distributors Cibo Ristorante Italiano; Willy's Smokehouse; The Grill at Ryan Ranch
SUNDAY, JULY 15
From the White House to Midtown Basements, Breakfast Session Anthony Bourdain, Brasserie Les Halles and the Travel Channel; Walter Scheib, White House executive chef; Robert Danhi, Culinary Institute of America
The Renegade Gourmet Meets the Conservative Connoisseur Chef Demos With Anthony Bourdain and Walter Scheib
11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Foodservice Produce Exposition