Chef Summit focused on plant-forward dishes

Markon Cooperative recently held a Chef Summit with the aim for chefs to learn, collaborate, and innovate together.

Markon‘s Fifth Annual Chef Summit, held in July in Monterey, brought together 26 chefs from seven foodservice members and operators. The chefs attended produce field tours, participated in roundtable discussions about the produce industry and trends, and connected directly with suppliers and growers about produce innovation and new products, while also working together to create new produce recipes and usage ideas.

One highlight was the blended burger recipe contest held in partnership with The Mushroom Council. Recipes were submitted prior to the Summit and the top four recipes were served for lunch at the event. Summit attendees voted Darci Kropp, chef of Cape Canaveral, Florida-based Darci’s Bacon Blues, as the winner for her Bacon Blues Burger.

"We couldn't be happier with our partnership with Markon around the Blended Burger – the chefs were incredibly creative, and the burgers were amazing!” said Steve Solomon, menu strategist for The Mushroom Council. “Consumers view blending as a better way to enjoy iconic foods like burgers without sacrificing flavor.”

Another culinary challenge featured during the Chef Summit was the Markon Green Box Challenge held at the Rancho Cielo Drummond Culinary Academy. Students assisted the chefs and were able to learn new culinary skills firsthand. The chefs and students were separated into three teams to develop new recipes or product usage ideas for a variety of salads and blends from Markon and its platinum sponsors Church Brothers, Ippolito Produce, and Taylor Farms.

The winning recipe was a scallop and shrimp lettuce bisque. It was developed by David Cunningham, center of plate sales specialist and culinary consultant with Reinhart Foodservice, and Jesse Edmunds, owner and chef with Seven Hills Hospitality Group.

Other Summit activities included:
Produce field tours: Chefs saw firsthand the growing and packing process for Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and mixed berries.

Produce trends and toolbox session: Cathy Holley facilitated a brainstorm around future flavor and menu trends, took a look at where past flavor and menu trends have gone, and discussed how chefs can continue to use produce in creative ways on their menus.

Supplier focus groups: The chefs engaged with the Summit’s sponsors in a round-robin discussion on regional culinary trends and to gain insights for products currently in development.

Grower panel Q&A: Chefs were given the opportunity to interact directly with growers through this question and answer session. 

“The Markon Chef Summit continues to be one of the most enjoyable culinary journeys of the year,” shares Sam Blackburn, executive chef with Sodexo. “From getting to experience Markon’s ‘boots on the ground’ and spending one-on-one time with the students at Rancho Cielo, to working together to create new culinary masterpieces; Markon has found a unique and special way to highlight the important role produce plays on menus.”

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