Here in Minneapolis, where has been freezing rain all day, I’m remembering fondly last week when I was in San Francisco at the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference. I miss the warmth of San Francisco, the delicious local fare I ate all week and the very cool and super smart attendees and speakers who made the conference a fantastic experience.
And now, without further ado, five things I learned while at the IACP conference that will inspire and make an impact on caterers…
Nashville: a town of twang, of giant dreams, of newly successful tv shows and old movies starring Lily Tomlin and, most recently, a town with a huge culinary history. For this year’s International Foodservice Editorial Council (IFEC) conference, 179 foodservice editors and publicists headed down to Music City– or NashVegas– to check out the newest products and culinary trends. From November 5-8, 2012, I ate through foodservice trends with other IFECers. Here are my highlights:
1. Learning about classic Nashville specialties: Before the New American Foodie Revolution of the past 10 years, Nashville had already contributed two distinguished regional dishes beyond the basics of Southern cuisine.
Meat-n-Three designates the type of restaurant where you serve a protein (usually fried chicken) and three sides, cafeteria style, with the addition of cornbread. And Meat-n-Threes are common throughout the South, but they hold a particular significance in NashVegas. At many of Nashville’s meat-n-three joints, you can see country stars, aspirational singers, tourists and just about anyone else in town shuffling through the cafeteria lines, selecting their sides. As one of the speakers at IFEC put it, the cafeteria line itself is “the great equalizer.”
Last Wednesday, I ascended the escalators of the downtown Minneapolis Hilton to find a small line in front of a metal detector. Inside the ballroom were flags with the seal of the President and the Vice-president all set up like a press conference… and while NACE National President Greg Casella was a very lovely person, I was pretty sure that all this fanfare wasn’t for him. The staff of the Hilton pointed me down the hall to another ballroom – which was decorated with a variety of styles of tables and wasn’t nearly as stuffy as the first ballroom. I’m sure that Vice President Biden enjoyed his brief stay in Minneapolis, but I’m sure that the attendees of the NACE Twin Cities Chapter Conference had a much more lovely, educational time.