Chefs convene at Markon summit to focus on plant-forward dishes

Chefs convene at Markon summit to focus on plant-forward dishes

Salinas, Calif.-based Markon Cooperative Inc. gathered 26 chefs from its foodservice members and operators to focus on plant-based recipes at its fifth annual Chef Summit.

At the July summit, the chefs toured Brussels sprouts, mushrooms and mixed berries production areas, participated in roundtable discussions about the produce industry and trends, and spoke with suppliers and growers about produce innovation and new products, while working together to create new recipes and usage ideas.

“Markon has found a unique and special way to highlight the important role produce plays on menus,” Sam Blackburn, Sodexo executive chef, said in a news release.

Other chefs were from: 

  • Ben E. Keith Foods
  • Gordon Food Service
  • Gordon Food Service Canada
  • Maines Paper & Food Service
  • Nicholas & Co.
  • Reinhart Foodservice
  • Shamrock Foods Co., 

Two culinary challenges highlighted the summit.

The Markon Green Box Challenge was at the Rancho Cielo Drummond Culinary Academy, which teaches at-risk youth skills and provides job placement opportunities. Students and chefs formed three teams to develop new recipes or product usage ideas for a variety of salads and blends from Markon and event sponsors Church Brothers, Ippolito Produce and Taylor Farms.

The winning recipe was a scallop and shrimp lettuce bisque featuring Markon’s Ready-Set-Serve Heritage Salad Blend. It was developed by David Cunningham, sales specialist and culinary consultant with Reinhart Foodservice, and Jesse Edmunds, owner and chef at Seven Hills Hospitality Group, according to the release.

In the other challenge, the Mushroom Council — a sponsor of the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project — partnered with Markon to challenge chefs to create new blended burgers that contain at least 30% mushrooms. Recipes were submitted before the summit, and the top four recipes were served for lunch at the event. 

Summit attendees voted Darci Kropp, chef of Cape Canaveral, Fla.-based Darci’s Bacon Blues, as the winner for her Bacon Blues Burger, according to the release. Her recipe featured ground chuck blended with Florida-grown Monterey mushrooms and cherries, topped with arugula, brie, jalapeno bacon and a spicy cherry ketchup, served on a brioche bun.

Markon provides fresh produce purchasing, logistics, information and marketing services to distributors and foodservice customers.