Association Connection - Summer 2016 - (Page 22)

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP 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 pumpkin gastrique... It does start to get a bit ridiculous after a while. 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 taste better. 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 spring season!" 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 the road?" So what about ingredient ideas? Gindin has plenty. 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 in wintertime. 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, plums, watermelon 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 decision-making. 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 22 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 the door. 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
Quick Tips
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
Thought Leadership
Destination Planner: Asheville, N.C.
New Members
TNSAE Calendar
Index of Advertisers/

Association Connection - Summer 2016