And the food continues . . .
If I’ve ever been in a place where food passion was appreciated, this is it—COEX, the annual Chain Operators Exchange, sponsored by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association.
Somehow they talked me into giving a speech today, and so I talked about the food. I had great photos and video to back me up (thanks, team!), and I poured out my enthusiasm for food. I challenged the group to think about the last meal they had that was truly memorable, and to see if they could please devote their resources to helping make more of those memorable meals for us all. And, boy, did I get feedback!
Turns out that people in the food industry love food. And something in all of this week’s sessions unleashed their willingness to be unabashedly proud of it. Over and over again someone would come up to me to describe their best menu experience. They were heartfelt and passionate.
One of the people I heard it from was Chef Michael LaDuke, Director of Product Development for Red Lobster. We asked him about how the chain keeps coming up with new ideas, like the wood fired grill recipes they’ve integrated into the menu in the past year. He responded, “The great thing is we all get together and start talking about food and it explodes. We all have a passion for food.”
And LaDuke could describe it with passion. As part of the evening reception, LaDuke and his crew of chefs were providing several innovative dishes. Wood Grilled Shrimp Bruschetta. Lobster Bisque garnished with cream with a touch of truffle oil.
But wait, why am I describing it when I have Chef LaDuke. There’s nothing quite like hearing food described by the chef who creates it. Watch it below:
In addition to the offerings from Chef LaDuke, we also had salad—made with baby Romaine, bibb lettuce, Lolla Rossa with Hearts of Palm, garlic croutons, and jalapeno spiked coconut vinaigrette.
We had something called Queso Shots from Lamb Weston, featuring their Queso dipNsides—a great sauce for dipping breaded mozzarella sticks. And, from the same company, Spanish Tapas Pappas—battered, sweet potato tricuts, with a great mayonnaise-based sauce.
We had Peruvian Style Shrimp Ceviche marinated in Aji Amarillo Sauce, and Seared Sea Scallops glazed with Honey Citrus Pepper Sauce. The chef cut off a beautiful end cut of the Cuban Rubbed Pork Loin served with red mustard greens and fried yucca, poured a little sauce over it, and said, “guess what that is.” Turns out it was fig sauce, and wonderful.
Last night, some of the chefs told me that the risotto was the best thing the hotel makes. Tonight, we had the opportunity to try it, too, and I can’t argue with them. The Chicken Risotto with Charred Corn, Roasted Poblano Peppers and Pecorro Cheese was pretty great . . .and the Wild Mustroom Risotto with Cherry Tomatoes and Parmesan Cheese was delicious . . . but I was wow’d by the Pancetta Risotto with Green Peas and Shaved Asiago Cheese. Wow’d.
And we finished with dessert. Dawn Foods, Inc. was showcasing a Chocolate Mini Bundt Cake with your choice of toppings—a marshmallow topping that turned the cake into Gooey Chocolate S’Mores Cake, and a fudge topping with mint and strawberries that turned it into a Strawberry Rum Truffle Cake.
Talk about memorable food!
In fact, let’s do—memorable food gets talked about. Let the conversations continue!
_Tonight’s reception was sponsored by Nestlé Professional® and by Procter & Gamble Professional.
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See additional stories:
COEX: Menu, Value & Innovation
Restaurant Chains Address Key Issues
Event Coverage Sponsored by IFMA