Two dozen Bon Appétit culinarians from multiple East Coast education accounts and the company’s Plant-Forward Culinary Collaborative (PFCC) working group recently descended on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA, for the region’s first plant-forward culinary training.
National Nutrition Project Manager Sarah Anzlovar along with two of the local PFCC members, Regional Manager of Nutrition Daniele Rossner and Colby College Executive Chef Carmen Allen, led the half-day event aimed at showing attendees how to integrate more plant-forward concepts into their cafés. Wellness & Nutrition Executive Chef Dean Holliday prepared rutabaga mac n ‘cheese.’ This take on the rutabaga fondue at Vedge, a popular Philadelphia restaurant, has an umami-rich sauce made from roasted rutabagas, miso, nutritional yeast, and other plant-based ingredients. PFCC member Chris Lenza, executive chef at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, made a standout berry chocolate avocado chia pudding for dessert.
Then the attendees got to apply what they learned in a fun contest: working in teams, they had to create two plant-forward dishes — one showcasing a new technique and another making use of five mystery-basket ingredients in a plant-forward recipe. Criteria for winning included most creative use of the five ingredients (consisting of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and a small amount of animal protein) and most innovative strategy. Director of Nutrition & Wellness Terri Brownlee, Carmen, and PFCC member and Vassar College Executive Chef Everett Francis were the judges.
MIT Director of Culinary Operations Brian Dagnall and Wesleyan University Executive Chef John Cyr won for their creative dirty millet and flank steak chimichurri taco, which used a thinly sliced watermelon radish as the shell. Colby College Chef/Manager Lydia Kumpa and MIT Chef/Manager Bill McComiskey nabbed the innovative strategy prize for making a sauce from raisins and gooseberries for their wheat berry and turkey croquettes, which were served with spinach and pepita-crusted beets.
After the competition, attendees sat down to a family-style meal, capping an inspiring day with an equally inspiring menu featuring all of the day’s dishes.
Submitted by Sarah Anzlovar, National Nutrition Project Manager