Top Three Takeaways from Global Plant-Forward Culinary Summit

Our team recently took part in the Global Plant-Forward Culinary Summit at the Culinary Institute of America’s Copia Campus. The event offered up a bumper crop of plant-forward inspiration, with top-notch chefs from across the nation and even across the pond coming together to share their success strategies for putting more plants and a little less meat on the menu. Here are a few of our top takeaways: 

#1 Be Plant-Forward, Not Plant-Only 
When building more plant-based eating into your menu, work with a “plant-forward” mindset, not “plants-only.” Vegetarians and vegans are an important audience to cater to, but they are not the largest one. According to Datassential and other data sources, about 30% of Americans are looking to eat less meat, and more than half are trying to eat more plants. The right move is to meet them halfway; making it easy to enjoy foods they love with a little less meat.  

“We should think about grains as produce – you’re eating plants, they are nutritious and sustainable.” -Chef Roxana Jullapat, Friends & Family, Los Angeles 

Pasta is a great example here – a most-loved food (85% love/like it!) and ready-made vehicle for craveable, plant-forward meals. Here are a few of our favorites.

Barilla Red Lentil Penne Spring Vegetable Carbonara by Chef Bob Bankert 

#2 Less Analog, More Authenticity 
Across the presentations and conversation among attendees, there was a general consensus that it’s a better choice to build plant-forward dishes with real produce and grains, not analogs that are trying to be like meat. As the appeal of highly-processed meat substitutes continues to wane, let’s keep it real.  

“The best way to eat less meat is to make your vegetables extra delicious” -Ixta Belfrage, London-based cookbook author and recipe developer 

Green Goddess Pasta Salad with Chile Roasted Acorn Squash by Chef Iztayub Valenzuela

#3 Fermentation for the Win 
Fermented ingredients were everywhere at this conference, and for good reason. With fermented foods topping the superfoods lists, and being amazingly versatile flavor builders, there’s a lot to like. House-fermented rhubarb ginger beer? Miso meunière? Lacto-fermented Chinese Mustard greens? It was all delicious, and definitely had the attending chefs buzzing. More on this topic to come in future issues!  

Red Lentil Penne, Delicata Squash, and Pecorino by Chef Chandon Clenard