Barilla Down on the Farm

Earlier this summer, we at Barilla brought together a select group of chefs from across the country and all sorts of foodservice operations professionals at the Culinary Vegetable Institute (CVI) in Milan, Ohio. This has become an annual gathering to immerse in the latest culinary trends, from regional Italian to farm-to-fork cuisine. It’s part of our mission to go “beyond the box” and offer a strategic partnership with our customers in menu innovation. Our aim is to help customers step away from the constraints and pressures of their day-to-day roles, and draw inspiration from the amazing Chef’s Garden and CVI as well as each other and the content of the program. And based on the feedback we’ve received from our group, we succeeded! Since we can’t take all of you dear readers with us, we thought we’d share a bit of it here. If you’re interested in attending future events like this one, or are interested in getting a group of your own to the Culinary Vegetable Institute, let us know by sending a note to your Barilla representative or [email protected].

With a mix of expert speakers, excursions and hands-on enrichment, the group covered a lot of ground (literally and figuratively) about a modern understanding of farm-to-table. Farmer-in-Chief Lee Jones of Chef’s Garden stressed the importance of sound stewardship of the land, where the values of sustainability may be more valuable than just “local,” and how that narrative gives premium dimension to the plate.

CVI Chef Jamie Simpson guided the culinary inspiration at the summit, showcasing trend-forward techniques for produce, and a new high-tech approach to pairing flavors based on the organic chemical makeup of foods. And our own Lorenzo Boni, Executive Chef of Barilla America, demonstrated ways to keep pasta applications fresh and on-trend by delving into lesser-known regions of Italian cuisine, from Veneto to Campania. One of the takeaways for the chefs was realizing the big menu opportunity in leveraging the popularity of Italian cuisine while surprising with modern takes, whether regional Italian, regional American or through modern, plant-forward innovation.

“As a chef, this event was a huge success for me — from networking with other chefs to the inspirational discussions. This event inspired me to work on creating a new seasonal vegetable dish with farfalle pasta. Collaborating with Barilla, Chef Jamie and CVI to develop a pasta that is a brand fit is crucial.” –Jeff Hanak, Senior Director of Culinary, Maggiano’s Little Italy. 

Here are a few images of some of the dishes that came out of the kitchens during the retreat. Kudos to the amazing talents of the chefs in the group!