A Fresh Veg Blog

Introducing Mann’s Chef Panel

July 2017

Mann’s Foodservice team announced in a press release this morning the launch of two new salad mixes: RomaBlend and Red RomaBlend. Both are a combination of chopped romaine and components of our legendary Arcadian Harvest® petite mature whole leaves; RomaBlend being all green and Red RomaBlend containing…wait for it…red components. While we’re extremely excited about these new blends – they’re sweet! they’re crunchy! they look amazing on a plate! – and will be showcasing them at the PMA Foodservice Expo in Monterey next week, we’re also extremely excited about a new program we’ve created to go along with all of our new product roll-outs: Mann’s Chef Panel.

We asked five amazingly talented chefs from the Central Coast and Bay Area if they’d be willing to play with our products as we are in the process of developing them, give us feedback, and create mouth-watering recipes for us to enjoy. To our delight, they said yes, and we held our very first Chef Panel on June 30. Before the get-together, we sent them some RomaBlend and gave them a challenge: to Rethink the Caesar. Our Panel consists of chefs from a wide variety of culinary backgrounds – fine dining, vegan/raw, school foodservice, corporate catering, culinary R&D – and we couldn’t wait to see how each of them interpreted this request.

Needless to say, the team from Mann’s was blown away. After working on these new salad blends for months, it was both exciting and rewarding to see the results of our efforts sitting so beautifully on the family-style platters the chefs created. The product feedback and produce trend conversations that took place during our session was invaluable as well – getting chef feedback and approval on products is integral to our success by helping our customers sell to operators with more confidence. We’re looking forward to our next gathering in a couple of months.

If you’re looking for some serious recipe inspiration and the mouth-watering results of our Rethink the Caesar Challenge, check out our RomaBlend Recipe Guide link in the right sidebar. In the meantime, we are honored to introduce the members of our Chef Panel:

Tony Baker came to the United States from England in 1994, where he started working for Monterey’s Downtown Dining Group. He took the helm at Montrio Bistro in 1997, and has been the Executive Chef there ever since. Serving up many trademark dishes, Montrio Bistro has become one of the go-to restaurants in Monterey, consistently winning “Best Restaurant” by local readers polls. Tony has been guest chef and speaker for multiple events at the prestigious Pebble Beach Food & Wine for the past nine years, and he enjoys giving back to the industry by growing young talent.

Kari Bernardi, also known as Super Natural Chef, is a professional raw vegan chef and instructor. She is also the owner of a raw vegan gluten free product line called Super Natural Foods Company. Kari has been instrumental in writing healthy school food policies, bringing fresh fruits and vegetables into schools and teaching fresh nutrition to students around the world. She is the founding director of Monterey County’s Farm to School Partnership Program at CSU Monterey Bay, and is currently the director at Living Light Culinary Institute.

Tucker Bunch is the Research & Development Chef for Sweet Earth Foods, a packaged food company offering plant-based entrees to over 10,000 retail companies. He is also an adjunct member of the Culinary Institute of America Consulting Team. Prior to joining Sweet Earth Foods, Tucker was a food industry consultant. He also spent seven years as a member of the teaching faculty at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America at their campus in Napa Valley.

Justin Cogley joined Aubergine in Carmel as Executive Chef in 2011, where he oversees Aubergine and all of L’Auberge Carmel’s culinary programs. He previously lived in Chicago, where he opened the Elysian Hotel’s new kitchen as Executive Sous Chef. He also worked at Charlie Trotter’s critically acclaimed restaurant for four years, claiming the position of Chef de Cuisine for the last two. Justin and his team at Aubergine have received substantial acclaim, including 3 James Beard Foundation award nominations in 2015, Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator in 2014, and Food & Wine Best New Chef award in 2013, to name just a few.

Aaron Sears is the Executive Chef for Umami Catering, a corporate and private event company based in the Bay Area. Aaron began his culinary careers working at several restaurants in San Francisco before spending six years as the Culinary Director for Piedmont High School in Oakland. In addition to daily responsibilities of food production oversight, he taught and mentored high school culinary interns, as well as developed a summer class on “The Origins of Your Food.”



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