Association Connection - Summer 2016 - (Page 22)
F&B: Seasons Greetings
By Amy Drew Thompson
When someone says "Seasonal F&B,"
you may jump straight into fall and the
return of all things pumpkin in a way that
begins to evoke "Forrest Gump:" pumpkin latte, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin
truffles, pumpkin lavash, roasted quail in
It does start to get a bit ridiculous after
But, says restaurant critic and food writer
Rona Gindin, who has been following foodservice trends for some 30 years, another
reason seasonal foods are appealing to chefs
and planners is that foods are cheaper when
grown locally and in abundance.
"Suppliers cut out the expenses of shipping
across country or even between them,"
she notes. "Plus, because the items aren't
traveling long distance, they're fresher and
Gindin acknowledges the anticipation that
comes with the beginning of each season.
"The first time you see a menu item with
maple in the fall, peaches in the summer,
eggnog in the winter...? You get superexcited. It doesn't always last, since so many
of these are overdone, but that initial vision
sets off the olfactory glands. I can practically smell the autumn maple even as I
think about it during what is presently the
The predictability of pumpkin and peach
aside, seasonality relieves the need for a
gimmick-because nothing sells better than
fresh and local.
"You don't have to come up with something
clever to rejuvenate the menu," Gindin
explains. "Fresh spring asparagus...? Better
yet: Fresh white spring asparagus! And better yet again: Fresh white spring asparagus from King's Hydrofarm in Knoxville!
Seasonality is the world's simplest menumarketing tool; who doesn't want fresh,
white asparagus from the farm down
So what about ingredient ideas? Gindin
Autumn: Maple, nutmeg, Brussels
sprouts, cranberries, pears and apples
"Combine two of them in a dish, like
Brussels sprouts with maple syrup-and
maybe bacon!" She admits, however, she
prefers hers French-style, in a chicken stew
with Worcestershire sauce, freshly grated
ginger, white wine and cilantro.
Winter: Root vegetables-parsnips
and turnips, potatoes and kale
"You can prepare them like mashed potatoes or even with potatoes, served alongside a pork chop," she suggests. "And
potatoes themselves are a winter specialty;
they're cheap, they're delicious and they
can be prepared in a vegetarian-friendly
way. Using a certain variety, such as Yukon
gold, gives the menu a touch of panache..."
Although Gindin notes kale has been
a bit done to death, but it's at its peak
Spring: Asparagus, crab
"The tender stalks are amazing inside
frittatas-the world's best brunch item
and delightful for groups," says Gindin. "And
the social-media power of the season's first
soft-shell crab sandwich or heaping plate
of stone crabs can give any event mileage."
Summer: Corn, berries, peaches,
This is where craft cocktail'ing gets super
fun, whether the fruit is crushed with a
mortar and pestle to release all the juice
and aromas or garnishing the sides of the
glasses. And what about breakfast? "Think
house-made cherry or berry toppings for
pecan pancakes - preferably whole-grain.
Site Unseen? Make a Pilgrimage
Advents in tech have certainly made checking out an out-of-state venue easier, from
virtual tours to beautiful photography-
even apps like Skype that allow facility
managers to show planners what they
have to offer in real time make for faster
importance of meeting face-to-face versus virtually. What could be a breathtaking
space could have views that are less than
stellar when you were hoping for sweeping vistas or an indoor-outdoor smash or
dismal AV capabilities that could sink the
awards ceremony portion of the evening.
That said, before contracts are inked, site
visits are still in order. From staff concerns
to accurate room specs, load-in specifics
and the overall flow of the room or rooms,
seeing things as they are, in the space,
isn't much different than arguing for the
Site visits allow planners and venue staffers to talk real turkey, conceptualizing the
meeting or event and planning the best ways
to use the space available. Planners who
rely on hotel ballrooms too much could
find favor in something more urban-a
warehouse with great vibe in a neat neighborhood, a local fun-park that brings
whimsy and activity to unbutton a traditionally buttoned-up demographic.
Being on-site will help you talk through
ideas with staffers, allowing for evolution
and easy visualization. It's well worth the
investment, in time and money. Be sure
to line up multiple visits to capitalize.
The peace of mind you'll find will translate to confidence and excitement when
the attendees begin to stream through
S u m m e r 2 016
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Association Connection - Summer 2016
A Message from the President
The New Association Meeting
Safe & Sound: Meeting Security in Today’s World
Powerful Panels That Engage Your Audience
Successful Retreat Secrets
TNSAE’s Industry Education Day
Destination Planner: Asheville, N.C.
Index of Advertisers/Advertiser.com
Association Connection - Summer 2016