In May, Almond Board of California partnered with the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley to cohost its first-ever customized culinary retreat for corporate executive chefs from large-volume multiunit restaurants.
Fifteen corporate chefs and menu decision makers from chains such as Hard Rock Cafe International, Yard House and Fleming's Steakhouse convened at the CIA to use almonds as a cornerstone in the exploration of the current 'small plates' menu trend. Aptly titled "Small Plates with Big Impact," the three-day event led chefs on an exploration of almonds' essential role in the development of popular menu items such as bar bites, small plates and better-for-you options.
Along with CIA faculty, ABC staff and featured speakers, chefs collaborated to share industry insights and brainstorm solutions to common, daily menu development challenges.
This kind of customized event allows ABC to directly inspire corporate and executive chefs with the goal to ensure they are consistently 'rediscovering' the many benefits of almonds. Having this kind of exposure to chefs keeps almonds top of mind in the menu exploration and ideation process.
Almond grower and chairman of the ABC Established Markets Subcommittee, Scott Hunter, conducted the grower presentation. The chefs really took to his story and began to express a renewed appreciation for almonds' farm-to-fork appeal and ability to enhance the taste, texture and nutrition profiles of almost any concept. They also valued time together in the CIA kitchens, rolling up their sleeves and executing innovative applications with almonds that could be immediately applied in their own restaurants.
A post-event survey revealed that 100% of the chefs were inspired by the retreat and motivated to develop almond-based menu items over the next 18 months.