R&D conference uncovers a host of menu trends

R&D conference uncovers a host of menu trends

CHARLOTTE N.C. —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

The chefs responsible for developing the food at chains ranging from Golden Corral and Mimi’s Cafe to IHOP [2], Whole Foods Markets and Bojangles gathered to expand their horizons, meet with their fellow corporate chefs, share best practices, and eat and drink. —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

The first morning was devoted to exploring the food of the region, starting with a workshop on the role of Southern food on chain menus and then a review by Marist College history professor Frederick Opie. —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

Opie also joined Charlotte Observer food editor Kathleen Purvis, food scientist Shirley Corriher, and Charleston, S.C., chefs Donald Barickman of Hospitality Management Group and Robert Stehling of Hominy Grill in a discussion of how Southern cuisine could be incorporated further into and developed on menus. —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

During a cooking demonstration, Stehling made fried chicken with hot pepper jelly for the audience, and Corriher made biscuits with cherry Chambord butter while entertaining the attendees with her lively tales on problem solving. She also shared advice on how to develop gluten—or, in the case of biscuits, how to avoid doing so. —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

The food-filled morning did not dampen appetites for lunch, which included a buffet presented by the sponsors. —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

During a session of interactive round-table discussions, participants had the opportunity to gather in small groups to discuss topics that included how to cope with shrinking margins, how to maintain quality products on the menu, the changing responsibilities of R&D chefs, and maintaining quality control in imported products. Other topics included “Raising the Bar in QSR” and “What’s Hot on Chain Menus.” —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

Among the discussion leaders were: Adam Baird, corporate executive chef of Mimi’s Cafe; Barickman; Corriher; Tina Freedman, regional prepared-foods coordinator for Whole Foods Markets; Billy Jacob, a franchisee of Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries; Shona Jonson, senior manager for menu development at Chick-fil-A [3]; and Debra Olson, senior manager of product development for Golden Corral Corp. [4] —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

The afternoon panel discussion, titled “Supermarkets Strike Back!” focused on how retailers are both improving the quality of their prepared foods and taking on chains with aggressive advertising stressing the relative affordability of supermarket food. Panelists also revealed trends they saw that might spill over into chain restaurants. —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

The next day menu trends expert Nancy Kruse presented an overview of breakfast trends and led a panel discussion on that topic. Then some of the attendees headed to the J&W kitchens to develop dishes, while others visited a couple of supermarkets they had heard about the day before. —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

During a reception that night, the chefs who had spent the afternoon in the kitchen fed the results of their efforts to the conference attendees, and then, having set aside presentation plates of the dishes, each team discussed what they cooked. —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

The next day, Kruse gave her annual “State of the Plate” keynote, always an anticipated highlight of the conference. The International Corporate Chefs Association also presented a discussion on the challenges of using local, organic, natural and sustainable products in chain restaurants. —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

The conference closed with a demonstration by celebrity chef Robert Waggoner of Charleston Grill in Charleston, S.C. —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

Kruse: Thrifty chefs cut costs with innovative protein uses [5] —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

Despite unhealthy reputation, influence of Southern cuisine expands [6] —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

Restaurants face fresh competition from supermarket meals [7] —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

Cooking workshop teams J&W students with industry R&D pros [8] —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

Breakfast panel: Guests want bolder flavors at morning meal [9] —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

Corporate chefs advise peers to try going green [10] —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.

Waggoner highlights ‘dirty grits,’ gazpacho during cooking demo [11] —Chefs from an array of chains learned about the growing popularity of mojitos, the increasing challenge from prepared supermarket food, the importance of choosing the right flour and much more at the seventh annual Culinary R&D conference, held at the Johnson & Wales University campus here recently.