The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council’s first-ever “Blueberry Invitational” event gathered a dozen chefs at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, for two and a half days of blueberry education, ideation, and fun.
The chefs got their blueberry bearings with background about growing regions, seasonality, and other facts. Then, they divided into teams and stormed the kitchen for three hours of non-stop culinary innovation.
Their challenge: use mystery basket ingredients to create a breakfast item, a beverage, an entrée and a salad using at least two forms of blueberries in each. They were offered fresh, frozen, dried, puree, juice, and freeze-dried blueberries. The creative and often surprising results ranged from Blueberry Scones to Blueberry-Habanero BBQ Sauce, Deep-Blue-Sea Cod, and Blueberry Mojitos.
Instruction was provided by USHBC’s promotion committee chair Kirk McCreary, CIA chef Mark Ainsworth, CIA director of consulting Ted Russin, and CIA wine instructor Michael Weiss.
All told, the chefs received a well-rounded blueberry education and extended their thinking about how blueberries fit into contemporary menus. The chefs, who represented restaurant chains, non-commercial foodservice, and product development, went away with an abundance of ideas for adding more blueberries to their menus.