Legendary menu expert to flag flavor, value trends at Protein Innovation Summit

CHICAGO Sure, the economy is coming back and sales of luxury cuts of meat are creeping upward, but restaurants have a lot of catching up to do to offset the financial friction of the past three years, according to Michael Whiteman, president of New York-based Joseph Baum and Michael Whiteman Co.

“Operators ought to be scratching their heads about how downscale proteins can be merchandised at upscale prices,” Whiteman says. “Suppliers ought to be thinking about what sort of advice they can give to their customers.”

Whiteman will present these and other concepts as a keynote speaker at The 2011 Protein Innovation Summit, produced by the Marketing & Technology Group’s HOTELS, Plate and Meatingplace magazines.

On March 28 and 29 at W Hotel City Center, Chicago, Whiteman and other experts will look at what lies ahead for center-of-the-plate product innovation for the post-recession consumer and identify hidden opportunities within the R&D process across emerging flavor and menu trends.

Legendary restaurateur Whiteman will present his views on the latest additions to foodservice menus and discuss the underlying trends. What’s a fad? What’s here to stay? How can you tell the difference?

He believes the most innovation in recent years has come at the lower end of the price scale—US$10 and down—because that is where chefs and customers can take risks without adverse economic consequences.

Want to know what flavors and ingredients get customers salivating? “Look at what is being loaded into sandwiches. Look at what is being sold at food trucks, or what is being stuffed into tacos,” Whiteman says. “And by the way, everyone should be seeking clever ways to ride the rising vegetable trend.”

Among the other highlights of The 2011 Protein Innovation Summit:

• Presentation of original research findings and discussions that will drive new product development;

• Chef-guided interactive flavor demonstrations and tastings;

•  Discuss collaborative strategies with foodservice and hotel corporate chefs, meat and poultry buyers, processors and supply-chain partners to optimize the R&D process;

• A trade fair with multiple interactive product sampling opportunities.

To see a full agenda, learn more or register, visit the Summit’s microsite.