CIA. Choose Your Weapon. Plants? | The Food Party! | Laura Stec | Palo Alto Online |

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By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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CIA. Choose Your Weapon. Plants?

Uploaded: Apr 8, 2019

Headed back in a few weeks to the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) in Napa for the 2019 Global Plant-Forward Culinary Summit.

Well that’s a mouthful – and in more ways than one.

This unique program celebrates the CIA’s new Plant-Forward Kitchens digital media project, and convenes the food industry together for discussion, tasting, and innovation around the growing trend of plant-forward food.

Hasta la vista baby, plants are back.

Chefs from Plant-Forward Global 50 will be teaching, and a few of us signed up for “culinary inspiration workshops,” where we take on a problem and solve it, cooking side-by-side with chefs who already have. (I signed up for kitchen food waste).

I’ll be Instagraming live as laurastecinc, including from the seminars,

and CIA’s signature walk-the-talk banquets.

Vertical Tasting of CA Pears

Ginger Smash
Poached: Whipped Goat Cheese
Grilled: Aleppo Chili and Wildflower Honey

Ube Raindrop Cake

I like the term “plant-forward,” much more than plant-based, any preference? I think it gives folks who still like meat a shot. No perfection needed, just move meat from the center of your plate, and substitute vegetables and grains, or use it as a condiment. Sprinkle this blended loose burger onto any veggie dish for just enough moo when you need to.

2/3’rds sautéed ground grass-fed beef, 1/3’rd sautéed mushrooms, shake of mushroom powder, salt, pepper.

In conjunction, the CIA has paired with colleges and universities around the country, including Harvard and Stanford, on a long-term, behavior change program called Menus of Change (MOC). Part of the focus is to advance a new social paradigm, darest’ I say, to make healthy eating more fun, and to build a market for good, clean food using the huge buying power of a pumped-up national collaborative of college-folk ready to take on the Big Boys. MOC created the Principles of Healthy Sustainable Menus as their guide, including “focus on whole, minimally processed foods,” “reward better agricultural practices,” and “limit potatoes.”

Schools across the collaborative have live -tested principles in their cafeterias. UC Davis tested, lead with menu messaging around flavor, by offering the same carrot recipe described differently: “carrots,” “low-sodium carrots,” “healthy carrots,” and “twisted citrus glazed carrots.” Guess which batch people chose the most? It’s a simple, but effective study to remind us most eaters (especially kids) aren’t motivated by health as much as flavor. Want to attract someone to a new food? Describe it in a creative, savory way, rather than play up how “good it is for you.”

So come on back for more in a couple weeks.
This promises to be an exciting event.

Can't wait?
The CIA joins The Food Party! here too…

City Supper – The Future of Food

Soil – A Thing of the Past

reThink Farming – Planet Enemy #1

What is it worth to you?


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