California Avocado Commission — More than 230 operators from 129+ restaurant brands joined the California Avocado Commission at the Flavor Experience Conference 2023 hosted in San Diego, California from August 20 – 22. The three-day event, hosted in California avocado growing territory, provided CAC with the opportunity to showcase the local terroir, California difference and seasonal availability of the fruit with a targeted audience of west-coast-based multi-unit operators.
At the event, sponsoring companies presented flavor-forward dishes tapping into current trends to share creative menu concepts with R&D/product innovation, corporate executive chefs, culinary directors, purchasing/supply chain and marketing executives representing national and regional foodservice chains.
Connecting California avocados to emerging flavor trends being discussed at the conference was a top priority for the Commission’s team. To demonstrate how to add “California” into trend-forward dishes, Chef Jason Hernandez served three California avocado centric meals during the Sunday evening reception. The California Avocado Middle Eastern Black Bean Torta on Bolillo — featuring herb-braised lamb, California avocado crema, vegetables and sliced California avocados — melded Middle Eastern and the untapped mash-up trends. To showcase the Gen Z and familiar/surprising trends, Chef Hernandez created a California Avocado Sesame Caesar Salad that included shredded kale and romaine, California avocado “sesame croutons,” shaved parmesan cheese and a California avocado sesame Caesar dressing. The Avo-CA-bonara was a big hit with attendees. This dish featured California avocado carbonara miso cream sauce, confit bacon, capers and California avocado pieces atop bucatini pasta.
During the Monday morning grab-and-go breakfast session attendees enjoyed Chef Hernandez’s modified dessert concept — the California Avocado East-Meets-West Key Lime Granola that consisted of California avocado key lime pie topped with granola and fresh avocado.
At the Monday reception, the Commission served three on-trend menu applications. The California Avocado Korean Short Rib Parfait showcased the Gen Z, fermentation and mustard trends with California avocado wasabi-mashed potato, white California avocado barbecue sauce, pickled avocado and kimchi slaw served in a waffle cone. To demonstrate the Gen Z, fermentation and MSG trends CAC served a California Avocado Fried Rice Salad featuring pickled avocado, chili crunch, microgreens, kimchi vinaigrette and MSG mixed with California avocado fried rice. As a fat replacement consideration, the Commission served Double Fudge California Avocado Bone Marrow Brownie Bites topped with fresh California avocado and bone marrow whip. This dessert demonstrated the Gen Z and familiar/surprising trends discussed at the conference.
The Commission also was one of 18 sponsors selected to conduct a 12-minute demo and testing during the conference. Chef Hernandez and CAC Vice President of Marketing Terry Splane spoke to an audience of more than 60 operators about the benefits of in-season California avocados sourced from local growers while walking the attendees through a flavor-pairing exercise that demonstrated how to maximize the flavors of the fruit in a variety of dishes.
The conference, which reported a 15% increase in operator attendees over the prior year, allowed the Commission to expand its target base of chain contacts for future promotion opportunities and cement existing relationships. To encourage demand for and loyalty to the California Avocados brand, CAC staff also engaged and networked with chain decision makers discussing the California avocado season and opportunities to promote fresh California avocados in 2024.