Summit’s Food, Beverage and Nutrition Group Went to Seattle with Barilla Pasta and Took 14 Executive Chefs Along for the Ride – Read on to Find Out What Happened Next…
In last month’s post (found here), we told you how a dedicated team of four—Summit’s Food, Beverage, and Nutrition Group—helped guide Barilla pasta into the big, wide (and lucrative) world of the foodservice industry. Acting as an in-house marketing department, the team created a comprehensive plan that helped bring the centuries’ old pasta brand to boil in high-end hotel and restaurant chains across the country.
But lasting success in the foodservice industry, says Account Executive Samantha Sullivan, relies on relationships. And Summit Group’s Food, Beverage, and Nutrition Group has become an expert at creating and executing onsite outings that foster and nurture these critical interactions.
This June, for the second year in a row, 14 Executive Chefs from across the country found themselves in Seattle on a three-day adventure—scavenging the fresh and aromatic aisles of the city’s famous Pike’s Place Market, touring the fertile grounds of 21-Acre Farm, preparing meals with fresh-picked produce, watching Barilla Executive Chef Lorenzo Boni demonstrate modern Italian cooking trends, and, with celebrated Chef and Mixologist Kathy Casey, practicing farm-to-table and jarring methods.
All of it, executed onsite by Summit Group, demonstrated to participating Chefs that Barilla is more than just a blue box of pasta: it stands for an entire philosophy about food, health, forward-thinking cooking, and community.
“The very first event we did, it was like knocking the rust off my knife,” said Corporate Development Chef at Gold Star Chili, Mike Tremblay. In his current position, Tremblay is less involved in daily, hands-on food preparation. “It gets you out of your daily routine, out of your comfort zone, out of your little world, and gives you overall exposure to the enthusiasm that a company like Barilla has for reigniting that passion in folks.”
Importantly, he added, “Not once during the entire event did anyone from Barilla make a sales pitch—ironically enough, we’re not even a Barilla customer.” And now? “We’re excited about the option and chance to bring in one hundred thousand pounds of pasta from Barilla, and that was only possible by virtue of what happened in Seattle.”
And then there’s that little restaurant chain you might know—Applebee’s. After one of the restaurant’s three Executive Chefs attended the same event run by Summit Group last year, the industry leader brought Barilla on board with linguini that it now features on its core menu.
This year Executive Chef Patrick Humphrey attended. “I didn’t realize they had such a foodservice presence,” Humphrey said of Barilla. “You understand they’re more than just retail and you understand the quality that they stand behind.”
But, as Summit’s Samantha Sullivan emphasizes—and as the Chefs agree—choosing methods of cooking, ingredients, and, in this case, pasta brands, all goes back to positive experience with the people behind them.
“For me, it’s always good to be able to collaborate with different chefs,” said Humphrey, referencing his time in Seattle. “My biggest takeaway was seeing other people’s perspectives, meeting other chefs, and have having thought-starting ideas that you can bring back and apply to your own business.”