Blount Fine Foods


2015 Blount Culinary Summit - Morning Highlights

July 22 & 23, Newport, Rhode Island

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You know it is going to be a great day when this is the fist thing you see when you get out of bed.  The Newport Marriott is once again Summit Headquarters, where things kicked off around 8:00 AM with a welcome from our president and CEO, Todd Blount, who then handed things off to conference host Bob Sewall, our executive vice president of Sales & Marketing.

Bob also welcomed guests before introducing some of the members of his team and then previewing the day’s agenda.

The first session was with Chris Warsow, executive chef at Bell Flavors, who discussed 2015 Flavor/Ingredient Trends & Innovations across the food industry.  Some of the key takeaways from that session included:

  • Innovation comes when you look at both culinary and food science simultaneously, which is the marriage of art and science.  Then give it life through effective and persuasive communication.
  • There must be a balance between ingredients and food safety.
  • Took a look at Chicago’s Naf Naf Grill for a great example of a rising star in fast food with a commitment to “fresh.”  Some of their keys: prepared fresh, in-house, and right in front of the customer (“because transparency is huge in food right now”).
  • Look to Southeast Asia for culinary fireworks: spicy, hot, tangy, sweet flavors.  Specifically, Americans are clamoring for Filipino and Malaysian
  • Look to Gochujang, a Korean condiment of fermented red peppers, as a likely “next chipotle or sriacha.”
  • Bombay Snacks-brand may be an indicator of America’s growing comfort with curry and Indian food.
  • Sambal, calamansi Lime, coconut milk, and galangal round out the emerging trends that may be just over the horizon.
  • Hipster Trend: from scratch, including beer flavors, smoked/charred/mesquite, fermented, barrel flavors, maple syrup.

During the Discussion portion of Chris’ presentation, he was asked how to know when a trend has run its course.  We loved his answer: “By the time you notice that someone has put it in a can, the trend has probably run its course…”

Next up was Derek Wagner, chef/owner at Nick’s On Broadway, and a national board member of  Chef Wagner, in addressing 2015 Culinary Trends, spoke with great passion on the importance of injecting sustainability efforts and procedures into how all businesses in the food industry is done.

He credited his friendship with Blount corporate executive chef Jeff Wirtz for allowing him to see that sustainability, trend use, and even “real cooking” are alive and well not only in small restaurants around the country, but also at very large food manufacturers that really care.

Asked at one point how he defines “local,” Chef Wagner acknowledged the passion the term stirs.  His definition, which aims to not bastardize the term, but make it real, tends to be “if I can drive to the farm and get back in a workday, then to me, it’s ‘local.’”

Also during the Q&A, Chef was asked about how to stay relevant, to which he answered:  “If we're not helping guests make good choices, then we are not relevant, and they will move on.”

The final morning session was “Transparency & Clean Label Products,” hosted by Lee Smith, publisher of Deli Business magazine.  Some of the highlights from Lee’s engaging talk included:

  • On why she buys local produce, sometimes in greater bulk than she needs: “If the farm down the street is not there, it will be replaced by a housing development.”
  • The time has come to go back to eating the clean, fresh ingredients [previous generations] grew up on.
  • Once you get something into the food supply through food science, it’s almost impossible to get it out if the science changes, which it always does.
  • Case in point, trans fat has gone from the “safe” fat alternative to one of the main causes of heart disease.

Now it’s time for lunch.  As you can see below, the sun has made its way high into the sky above Newport Harbor.

We will be back soon!