At least once a year (sometimes more), we gather up our entire Executive Chef team and go on retreat. We spend time together cooking, creating, talking, exchanging war stories and, of course, eating, and sipping some wonderful wine. We plan for the future of the restaurants, including coming up with new menu selections.
What’s great about these retreats is that our chefs can bounce ideas off of each other. Putting all of our creative staff in one place results in some spectacular culinary magic.
This year, we went on retreat to the Culinary Vegetable Institute, which is in Milan, Ohio. Milan is in northern Ohio centered between Cleveland and Toledo. It was the site of the Veggie U Food & Wine Celebration, which we enjoyed a few weeks ago. It’s also a renowned location for retreats for those in the food and wine industry. We were there for a few days this week dreaming up and sampling new seafood menu options that we hope to debut in 2013.
Chefs treated to this terrific place enjoy working with some more unusual ingredients, including heirloom tomatoes, heirloom carrots and purple Brussels sprouts. Squash blossoms also continue to fascinate our staff. On the last night of our trip, Farmer Lee Jones, whose family heads up Veggie U, Culinary Vegetable Institute and The Chef’s Garden, joined us for dinner. Veggie U is the non-profit institution that helps equip classrooms with information and educational materials about fresh fruits and vegetables. CVI is the branch that hosted our retreat, and The Chef’s Garden is a wholesaler of vegetables, herbs, fruits and other fresh items for kitchens. All are together on one campus. Having the Jones family join us for dinner was a delight. They’re wonderful people, and we enjoy their company and what they do for the culinary industry.
Here’s our album of photos from our trip. What’s been your favorite culinary find this summer?