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PMA serves up fresh ideas with all-new foodservice conference and expo

Produce Marketing Association’s 37th annual Foodservice Conference and Expo July 28-29 in Monterey, CA, will feature a fresh approach to growing appetites for bold ideas that includes a new schedule, new format, and new layout in the now completely renovated exhibit space at the Monterey Conference Center and Portola Hotel & Spa.

Core events, which offer networking, information and insights to help businesses grow, have been consolidated into a two-day program on Saturday and Sunday, with each day featuring a keynote education session.

To save 10 percent, register by June 22 — save even more by registering two or more people from your company at the same time. Foodservice operators, menu developers, retailers and chefs can participate at a special rate.

Jill-OJill OverdorfThe expo on Sunday, which includes more than 185 exhibitors, will be spread out on two levels: on the first floor of the Monterey Conference Center and Portola Hotel and on the second floor of the conference center, which connects to the Monterey Marriott Hotel. The second floor opens at 10:15 a.m., so plan to get an early jump on the expo following Sunday’s keynote session. The first floor of the expo opens at 11 a.m. Both close at 4:30 p.m.

Each of the three exhibit spaces will feature a lounge designed to be a comfortable, inviting and inspirational area where attendees can network, share ideas, or simply sit down to take a break, recharge phones and appetites.

Lounges will feature conversation starters to spark ideas around trends and challenges in the foodservice industry. Themes include exploring bold, global flavors in dishes made with fresh produce; expanding palettes and produce-centric menu choices for Generation Z; and creative ideas for food waste reduction.

On Sunday, the Best of Show, second place Best of Show, and Best Product Promo awards will be announced.

“I truly love this show. It’s the premier gathering of the fresh produce supply chain in foodservice,” said Jill Overdorf, director of business development for Naturipe Value Added Fresh and co-chair of PMA’s Foodservice Conference Committee. “All aspects of the event will focus on flavor, menu development, and providing opportunities for foodservice professionals to learn to innovate and have their curiosity satisfied. As a chef, the excitement that ideas and new produce applications generate is very exciting; it’s a can’t miss conference for foodservice professionals!”

As PMA previously announced, the keynote speaker on Saturday, July 28, is Danny Meyer, chief executive officer of Union Square Hospitality Group and Shake Shack founder. Meyer’s talk, “Whoever Wrote the Rule,” will address strategic risk taking, embracing change, and welcoming disruption.

Meyer, his restaurants and chefs have earned an unprecedented 28 James Beard Awards, and his recent personal achievements include the Julia Child Award (2017) and his inclusion on the TIME 100 list of the Most Influential People in the World (2015). Danny’s first business book, Setting the Table (HarperCollins, 2006), a New York Times bestseller, examines the power of hospitality in restaurants, business and life. An active national leader in the fight against hunger, Danny serves on the board of Share Our Strength and has long supported hunger relief initiatives including City Harvest and God’s Love We Deliver.

On Sunday, July 29, Jet Tila, Chef and Food Network Star, will moderate a panel conversation on “The Rapid Pace of Change” in foodservice. Panelists are: Tim York, President, Markon Cooperative, Inc.; Tamra Scroggins, Director of Food Culture at Sizzler USA, Inc.; and Charlie Lousignont, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Management at Brinker International, Inc.

Chef Jet is a culinary anthropologist, entrepreneur, culinary world record holder, and the Royal Thai Counsul-General named him an Ambassador of Thai Cuisine. He was born from the first Thai food family of Los Angeles, Calif., which established the first Thai markets and restaurants in the United States. Chef Jet has appeared on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America, No Reservations, Parts Unknown, Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen, Beat Bobby Flay, Guy’s Grocery Games, and the Today Show.

York has over 40 years of experience in the produce and foodservice industries and has been president of Markon Cooperative since 1990. He was instrumental in the formation of the Center for Produce Safety in 2007, and remains active working on food safety, reducing food waste, sustainability, and environmental protections. Markon distributes produce to over 75 distribution centers in the United States and Canada.

Scroggins is responsible for development, testing and implementation of new menu items, products, food sourcing, and nutritional development for Sizzler’s franchise system of more than 134 restaurants in 10 U.S. states. With more than 30 years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry, she is a third-generation chef and previously owned and operated her own restaurant. She is one of the top 200 Chefs of the International Corporate Chef’s Association and a featured MenuMasters chef.

Lousignont oversees supply chain functions for Brinker’s corporate-owned restaurants. He ensures supply chain initiatives are consistent and supportive of the Chili’s® Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy® brand vision and objectives. He worked previously as Chief Procurement Officer of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and was in a leadership role at ARAMARK Corporation.

“I’m very excited by what we have lined up for our 2018 event,” said Brent Scattini, vice president of sales and marketing at Mission Produce, Inc. and co-chair of PMA’s Foodservice Conference Committee. “Our speakers are well known in their fields and have made significant impacts in the foodservice industry. This event has been designed to maximize time and opportunities for networking, learning and connecting buyers and suppliers.”

Participants will also enjoy menu tastings, networking, as well as related fundraising events to support Center for Growing Talent initiatives.

On Saturday, July 28, in addition to Meyer’s keynote, activities include a Strolling Brunch from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., a Networking Reception from 1-2 p.m., and an all-new Hands-on Fruit & Vegetable Training from 2-6 p.m.

The hands-on training, to be held in the San Carlos Ballroom in the Monterey Marriott Hotel this year, will immerse participants in a flavor pairing experience that will encourage thinking about ingredients through a different lens. The session caters to menu influencers, produce buyers, category managers, and entry to mid-level foodservice pros. Separate registration is required; seating is limited.

CGT’s Women’s Fresh Perspectives Reception is also scheduled Saturday, July 28, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Industry members across the supply will have the opportunity to share stories and celebrate successes wile forming valuable connections.

Registration is also open for CGT fundraising events: The Bocce for Talent Tournament scheduled 4-8 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, at the Custom House Plaza. The Joe Nucci Memorial Golf Tournament scheduled 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, July 27, at the Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Course. And 5K Race for Talent scheduled to start an hour later than usual and begins at 7 a.m. Saturday, July 28, at the Promenade between Fisherman’s Wharf and the Portola Hotel.