PRO*ACT Hosts 280 Attendees from 90 Companies at Culinary Summit
- by Lilian Diep
MONTEREY, CA - In late September, PRO*ACT threw the 1st annual Culinary Summit at the Monterey Conference Center. Distribution partners and culinary innovators gathered for educational field tours, fresh produce innovation, exceptional meals, and a keynote presentation from Michelin-starred restaurateur, James Beard award-winning chef, and TV host Rick Bayless.
“Our role in simplifying and streamlining the supply chain from seed to fork starts in the fields and reaches all the way to the kitchen—this event is a natural extension of our goal to inspire creative ways to use fresh produce,” said Brian Denton, PRO*ACT’s Director of Marketing. “Our Colorful Plates culinary-focused website and podcast continues to connect many of our suppliers and customers; it starts with having the right people together, and fostering the right dialogue."
According to a press release, D’Arrigo, Driscoll's, Mann Packing, and Taylor Farms showed attendees around during their field tours, which included serving food that was harvested that day.
“Any time we can have people seeing our fields and process, it’s great, especially when it includes those who are serving our product every day,” Taylor Farms' Vice President of Foodservice Scott Horton shared.
The meals served featured products from some of the 40 suppliers that participated in the event, including a welcome dinner at the Barns at Cooper Molera, with local wineries and chef stations showcasing produce with creative flair, including Mission avocado ravioli, Grimmway carrot fritters, filet mignon with J.C. Watson’s yellow onion polenta, and New York Cheesecake topped with Rainier’s organic blueberries.
Not only were attendees served amazing dishes, they were also privy to learning about varietals; taste profiles; and new methods of prepping, cooking, and serving fresh fruits and vegetables through demonstrations from leading suppliers who brought their culinary teams. Highlights included cake decorating with Sunkist’s Meyer Lemon-infused icing, a fresh take on bahn mi featuring Mission Avocados, Rainier’s Lady Alice apple Gouda sandwiches, and HMC’s grape salsa.
“Walking the fields, meeting with suppliers, and learning with our Head of Culinary was great. It allowed us to have the kinds of conversations that moves the Ted’s Montana Grill menu forward!” shared Ted’s Montana Grill Senior Manager of Sourcing Jim Ebersold.
Walk-On’s SVP of Culinary Mike Turner added: “This event exceeded our expectations as Walk-On’s was able to learn together as a team and find ways to do business better together with PRO*ACT and our suppliers.”
With all this fresh produce flying around, what else could be the cherry on top than having another celebrity visit? Top Chef Judge, award-winning author, and restaurateur Hugh Acheson shared his take on menu trends in another keynote session, followed by demonstrations on pickling fresh produce and culinary sessions with Avocados From Mexico and Idaho Potato Commission.
“The enthusiasm we received from suppliers, customers, and distributors was overwhelming,” noted PRO*ACT COO Brian Kane. “We learned from each other and are looking forward to continuing to connect the supply chain in meaningful ways—including through the Culinary Summit.”
With 280 participants from 90 companies in attendance, culinary knowledge swarming, and fresh produce abounding, it sounds like the Culinary Summit was a smashing success. Will we see it again next year? We here at ANUK sure hope so.