“Shame on us for not doing the right thing by food,” Saran said. “It’s (produce) not a side dish.”
He demonstrated a citrus salad he serves with fried chicken at his restaurant.
After presentations from John Ash, chair of the institute’s Sophisticated Palate Program and culinary director for Fetzer Vineyards; Joyce Goldstein, chef, author and consultant; Michael Tuohy, chef of Grange Restaurant and The Citizen Hotel in Sacramento, Calif., and James Sanchez, chef of Acenar restaurant in San Antonio, attendees seemed to be inspired.
“I’m more excited about the food today than I have been all week,” said Paulette Thompson, health and wellness manager of Stop & Shop Supermarket Co.
The event’s market basket experience broke attendees into teams, each with sponsors, chefs and foodservice operators, to think of new ways to make produce “craveable” and center-of-the-plate.
“We’re learning about the versatility of fruits and vegetables and creating new ways to integrate them into dishes for children and families,” said Roxanne Moore, wellness director for Sodexo Corporate Services. Moore said the company was particularly interested in working more produce into desserts, because they tend to be more popular with children. Her team worked on a parfait with Tres Colores, as she called it, as well as an avocado smoothie.
But the operators weren’t the only people learning a thing or two.
“I’m learning how hard it is to work in a kitchen and growing a greater appreciation for what it is foodservice operators and chefs have to do to bring us delicious, wonderful food at a good price," said Bart Minor, president of the San Jose, Calif.-based Mushroom Council.
After their time together in the kitchen, attendees shared the meal and their ideas for encouraging produce innovation in the foodservice sector.