Culinary Institute of America Study Trip

This trade case study is an example of dedicated trip (in Aug 2018) to take 4 influential UK chefs to the US with the specific goal to inspire and influence the many uses of California Walnuts within the food service and restaurant environment.

The Story:
The California Walnut Commission hosted a summer culinary trip to Napa, California arranged for professional chefs. Four chefs, from independent consultants to world class foodservice companies, attended – each of whom have influence over menu items for a huge range of catering outlets and retail products across the UK and internationally. The trip was co-hosted by CWC USA and also attended by chefs and industry representatives from Korea and China.
The primary focus of the trip was to visit the renowned Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Greystone in Napa Valley California, to discover new and novel ways to incorporate California Walnuts in foodservice, mainstream menus and restaurants across the globe.

The four chefs from the UK included:
• Nick Vadis, Culinary Director of Compass Group, the largest foodservice food company in the world serving 5 billion meals annually in 50 countries worldwide.
• Matt Hay, Chef Director at BaxterStorey, the UK’s leading independent hospitality provider with 700 locations nationally.
• Mickael Jahan, Innovation Development for UK and Ireland – Aryzta. Aryzta is the largest international food business in the world with a leadership position in frozen B2B bakery.
• James Buckley, Development executive chef O2 and London Leisure Levy Restaurants.
The group visited distinguished California eateries from the Thomas Keller Group in Napa and were able to discuss techniques and uses for ingredients, including California Walnuts with the chef teams at each of the establishments.
Included in the trip was a visit to the unique kitchen garden at the CIA and the garden at Keller’s world famous French Laundry. Discussions with the head gardeners at both facilities gave further insight to the close relationship between producers and chefs.

The highlight of the trip was the CIA in Napa, where Chef Instructor Barbara Alexander hosted a day focusing on novel ways to include California Walnuts in a wide variety of recipes and snacks. Chef Barbara has over 30 year’s experience running prestigious hotel kitchens and Michelin level restaurants as well as teaching at well-known cookery schools in both Canada and the USA.
A wide variety of dishes were created and sampled by the chefs in an interactive session encouraged by Chef Barbara to ‘get closer to the action’.

For example, dishes included:
• Middle Eastern Lamb and California Walnut meatballs
• Grilled Octopus with California Walnut Charmoula
• Fried California Walnuts with Kaffir Lime and Chilies.

Following the CIA section of the trip, the culinary tour continued on to San Francisco where the chefs sampled traditional San Francisco sour doughs and bakery fare as well as uniquely prepared fresh pacific sea food, further concepts and ideas for their return back to their development bakeries and kitchens.
CWC UK are in regular contact with the four chefs offering support to them as they develop ideas incorporating California Walnuts in their individual companies, consultancies, development bakeries and kitchens.
The ultimate goal of the activity is to create opportunities that lead to more California Walnuts being used in more retail products, mainstream meals and foodservice menus nationally in the UK, and possibly even internationally.

To receive details on the CIA recipe creations and future California Walnut trade initiatives, please contact the California Walnut Commission.