FARE 2014 Report: Seventh Wonder

By  Abbie Westra, Editor-in-Chief, Convenience Store Products
Steve Holtz, Online News Director & Beverage Editor
Jennifer Bulat, Director of Editorial Production

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They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and that was certainly true for the seventh annual FARE conference. Held June 16-18 at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas, the conference was bursting at the seams with more than 1,000 attendees, dozens of great speakers, a culinary competition and an exceptional expo. Soak up our coverage of the event in the following pages, and then check out our photo album.


Delicious Competition: C-store retailer, hospital chef sink their teeth into FARE contest

Competing against All-Pro running back Herschel Walker is enough to make anyone sweat, but contestants in the second annual FARE Culinary Competition also had to face hundreds of onlookers and the pressure of their peers.

The final dishes exemplified the culinary creativity that happens when operators from across the foodservice channels team up to vie for best in show.

The winning dish: a torta-style burger, from Ben Lucky, director of foodservice for Sprint Food Stores, August, Ga.; and Pete Torres, executive chef at the Dallas Medical Center (pictured). It featured a chorizo and Italian sausage patty topped with pulled pork, caramelized onions in a chipotle raspberry sauce, micro greens, chicken-skin “chicharrones” and a garlic-Parmesan chimichurri. It was served with mesquite-flavored tortilla chips and grilled pineapple.

Culinary Competition contestant Walker paused between chopping and tossing to shake hands and pose for photos with attendees. Walker’s teammate Katzie Guy-Hamilton—a culinary great herself, having appeared on “Top Chef, Just Desserts” and recently named one of Dessert Professional magazine’s Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America for 2014—remained beyond cool under the pressure of the extra spotlight.

Participants were given 60 minutes to prepare, package and serve an original, innovative on-the-go style meal item. They were judged on a 10-point scale in four categories, each weighted equally: taste, creativity and innovation, presentation and—a true FARE twist—portability/ convenience. Dishes could be considered grab and go or made to order, and travel well for later consumption or be easily eaten quickly or on the go.

To create their dishes, teams had to use at least one product from sponsor companies Arcobasso Foods and McCormick for Chefs. They also had to use at least one protein from either Pierce Chicken/Pilgrims Pride or the National Pork Board. Teams would receive an extra point if they used a protein from each sponsor—which each overachieving team did.

Each team’s station was manned by a shiny new Ovention oven, which they had to use in at least one application. Gloves were provided by sponsor FoodHandler.

Other participants and teams:

▶ Guy-Hamilton, director of food and beverage, Max Brenner, New York; and Walker, foodservice entrepreneur and All-Pro running back. Dish: Toasted pork, chicken and apple hash flatbread, served with a Parmesan-honey sauce.

▶ Edward Rodriguez, senior kitchen manager, University of Southern California, Los Angeles; and Andy Wittman, culinary operations manager, Pizza Inn/ Pie Five Pizza Co., The Colony, Texas. Dish: Brown-sugar cured pork with caramelized onions, vegetable slaw and a raspberry-chipotle sauce on toasted focaccia, served with a rice ball stuffed with chicken and mozzarella and topped with garlic Parmesan sauce.

▶ Jason Beecher, culinary manager, product development, for Wawa, Wawa, Pa.; and Paul Glassman, food & beverage director, Five Star Senior Living, Dallas. Dish: Mesquite chicken flatbread sandwich with caramelized onions, spicy chipotle and chorizo, greens and roasted bell peppers tossed with balsamic glaze, all topped with a fried egg.

The Culinary Competition judges included:

▶ Pat Cobe, senior editor, Restaurant Business magazine, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.

▶ Andrew Franco, executive chef, Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, Canastota, N.Y., and 2013 FARE Culinary Competition Winner

▶ Darrick Henry, dietary director/ chef, Baylor Orthopedic and Spine Hospital at Arlington, Texas

▶ Dan Phalen, corporate executive chef, Luby’s Fuddrucker’s, Houston

▶ Laurence Shiner, executive chef, Western Illinois University, Macomb, Ill., and 2013 FARE Culinary Competition Winner.

CONTINUED: Leaders in Foodservice Awards

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