Fresh Thoughts: Inspired by the Abundance of Opportunity


Fresh Thoughts: Inspired by the Abundance of Opportunity

Last week, USHBC Promotion Chair Bob Carini and I made the trek to Boulder, Colorado, to spend some time with our new foodservice agency, SRG.

Bob Carini and I with Chef Dina Paz, Chef Daniel Carpenter and Chef Shelli Kark – the masters behind the culinary wizardry

The purpose of the visit was to connect with our new agency, get an update on what they’ve been working on and vet (read: taste test) upward of 30 new blueberry culinary applications.

Chef Dina with her outrageously delicious blueberry croque madame

The team at SRG is laser focused on culinary applications that will be relevant to high-volume foodservice operators (commercial, noncommercial and K-12). Over two days, we tried everything from a non-dairy blueberry milk (which makes a mean latte, and is perfectly on trend for the coffee shop crowd, especially when paired with blueberry avocado toast, or a blueberry ancient grain breakfast cookie), to a pickled blueberry couscous salad (great for cafeterias and grab-and-go settings), to an overnight blueberry French toast bake (perfect for school foodservice), to blueberry butter (I challenge you to find something more delicious for your bread) and, my personal favorite, a trio of blueberry-based barbeque sauces that are a seriously big idea. Ever had a blueberry-marinated steak taco on a blueberry tortilla with blueberry goat cheese? How about a juicy burger with a thick slathering of blueberry compote and peanut butter? Bob and I saw (and tasted) it all.

All mouth-watering details aside, the purpose of this session was to create an arsenal of concepts that are aligned with current culinary trends and that will be relevant to a targeted audience of foodservice industry operators, aka restaurant chefs, thereby increasing the likelihood of garnering menu placements and driving blueberry volume through the foodservice channel. The team at SRG enlisted the help of chefs across the country with a wide range of professional expertise, ranging from fine dining to K-12, college and university, and quick-service sectors. After ideating over 125 concepts initially, they distilled to the 30 that we tried, favoring the concepts that used the highest volume of blueberries in various formats. Following the tasting, we further homed in on 12 that will be professionally photographed and incorporated in a highly visual collateral piece that will be used to educate and inspire chefs as we begin our foodservice industry event activations and partnership meetings.

Tasting the pickled blueberry couscous salad

It was a very inspiring experience and I took a lot away from our time there with the SRG team and their incredible chefs. My biggest take away was that there’s an incredible amount of innovation yet to be realized for our blueberries.

Check out this “PB² Burger” (peanut butter blueberry burger) – amazing!

When you focus on the abundance of opportunity through creative innovation that still lies ahead for blueberries, you can imagine how just one new idea could catch fire and really drive blueberry demand through channels like foodservice.

Many thanks to the partners who donated product for this effort. I can assure you, it made a difference.